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Cambridge’s daring plan to ship higher and cheaper bus companies is a giant step in the fitting path

Final month, the Higher Cambridge Partnership (GCP) launched a session on plans to ship substantial enhancements to town area’s transport community, together with extra dependable bus companies, cheaper fares, and infrastructure upgrades. All of this has come alongside bold targets to extend bus ridership by 40 per cent, whereas lowering all site visitors by 50 per cent.

Underneath the proposals, enhancements can be phased in over the subsequent 4 years, throughout which era they might be paid for upfront by GCP. Past that, congestion charging is being explored as a long-term funding possibility.

Heart for Cities helps these plans, as they broadly align with the coverage suggestions we printed final month. Listed here are the the explanation why:

1. Sustainable financial development in Higher Cambridge would require elevated ridership in the long run

Higher Cambridge is economically profitable, and its optimistic development trajectory is about to proceed over the approaching years, however, as mentioned on the Heart for Cities’ Realizing Regional Development occasion in Cambridge final week, such success usually comes with prices. As a metropolis grows, it’s usually left contending with elevated pressures on its infrastructure, resulting in extra congestion, increased carbon emissions, and poorer air high quality. Encouraging extra individuals out of personal vehicles and on to public transport can be important to fixing these issues and making certain continued financial success.

GCP’s plans acknowledge this want for enlargement and appropriately define how merely going again to pre-Covid ranges of bus ridership isn’t adequate. Declining passenger numbers isn’t a brand new subject and was evident in Cambridge (and throughout the UK) effectively earlier than the pandemic hit. Enhancing Cambridge’s mobility in a sustainable manner will due to this fact solely be achieved by pursuing bold targets to reverse this long-standing development and considerably enhance passenger numbers for the longer term.

2. Bus franchising and public funding will scale back the attraction of personal vehicles

The decline in bus ridership within the UK may be partially attributed to the deregulation of bus companies in 1986, after which native areas misplaced the power to plan routes and cross-subsidise their community. To assist rectify this, GCP is working with the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Mixed Authority to make sure its main has the powers to franchise the city-region’s buses.

Constructing a great high quality public transport system in Cambridge would require greater than native management of the bus system – substantial funding in infrastructure and income assist can also be wanted. GCP’s proposed plans look to do that by increasing the bus community (each in dimension and frequency of service), delivering new bus lanes, and offering further parking in journey hubs. As soon as such investments are operational, fares capped between £1-£2 will make public transport a considerably extra engaging possibility than it at present is.

The proposals additionally look to lower automobile use by investing in new lively journey infrastructure. In keeping with the 2011 census, Cambridge was the biking capital of the UK, accounting for nearly one-third of all commuters as a consequence of its flat terrain and comparatively younger inhabitants. Infrastructure upgrades mixed with the emergence of e-bikes and e-scooters are more likely to additional enhance the uptake of lively journey within the area, and hopefully lower congestion on the roads.

3. Congestion charging is efficient in boosting each public transport use and air high quality

Whereas GCP plans to initially fund its public transport proposals up entrance, they may want new funding streams to be sustained in the long term. As such, GCP is exploring the choice of step by step introducing a £5 congestion cost inside a chosen ‘sustainable journey zone’.

Implementing such a scheme may be politically tough, however it’s a good choice to make. In addition to being income raisers, congestion fees scale back site visitors and air pollution, whereas not directly enhancing public transport companies. For instance, proof from London reveals that, by taking extra vehicles off the roads, street consumer fees assist enhance bus speeds.

Furthermore, Nottingham’s office parking levy is a transparent instance of how car-restricting insurance policies can successfully fund public transport schemes. By elevating greater than £75 million over the past decade, town has been in a position to fund the enlargement of its tram community. In keeping with GCP’s estimates, a congestion cost in Cambridge would elevate £50m a yr, which might be reinvested into town area’s public transport.

Cambridge also needs to construct extra housing in well-connected areas

GCP’s transport proposals are welcome however they need to even be complemented by town’s housing coverage. Low-rise suburban developments drive hundreds of residents to stay additional away from good public transport connections, which finally contributes to automobile dependency, congestion, and poorer air high quality. Constructing extra mid-rise housing in well-connected areas would considerably enhance each passenger numbers and income for Higher Cambridge’s public transport community.

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