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Mayor Nik Johnson bids to save threatened Littleport and Ely bus link to Cambridge

Stagecoach plans changes to three services, F, 25 and 9

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Mayor Dr Nik Johnson is to try and save the Number 9 bus service between Littleport, Ely and Cambridge. Stagecoach operates the service but have told the Traffic Commissioners they propose major cuts.

But now the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, led by Mayor Johnson, is preparing the groundwork to support the service.

Cllr Anna Smith, lead member of the Combined Authority transport and infrastructure committee, will introduce a report to the committee on March 13 that could save most, if not all, of the service.

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Her report says the Combined Authority had been formally notified of changes to three of Stagecoach’s commercial network, service F, 25 and 9.

“Within the current deregulated environment, commercial operators submit changes to services via the Traffic Commissioner,” says the report.

“Unfortunately, all the services outlined were cited as significantly loss making and unable to continue in their current form.”

The report identifies each of the threatened services and the recommendations going forward.

Service 9:

Stagecoach has proposed changes to service 9, operating between Littleport, Ely, and Cambridge.

At present, the service operates hourly in both directions during the morning and evening peak period, and every other hour during the off-peak period.

This will be reduced to three journeys operating in each direction across the whole day.

Using data provided by Stagecoach, the Combined Authority estimates that the cost per passenger journey figure would be £1.76 for a potential contracted service.

“This is well below the benchmark of £12 that has previously been used,” says the report.

“Due to the severe degradation in service that residents will face, it is recommended to introduce a contracted service that restores as much of the service to its current form, subject to a tender process.”

At a recent meeting of East Cambridgeshire District Council, the leader Cllr Anna Bailey said she had met with Stagecoach officials to discuss the changes.

She said it would see a reduction of three buses to one on the route.

“I think it’s fair to say the biggest impact is for Littleport residents is being the loss of most of the off-peak buses from Littleport to Ely”.

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She said Stagecoach would maintain the commuter times “and the changes are due to happen as you said in mid-April.

“I have met with Combined Authority officers about this, and they’ve agreed to work up a plan and a timetable for a service to be tendered by the Combined Authority to work around the operating hours of the reduced Stagecoach service.”

She said the tender would need to be checked for legality and if a new service were introduced it would mean, hopefully, ticketing co-operation to make sure that people can use their tickets interchangeably on the two services.

“If you buy a return you can get on the other service when you come home,” she said.

Service F:

Stagecoach plan to remove an early morning and evening links from Fenstanton on to the Busway at St Ives

This was introduced in 2022 and is provided commercially but Stagecoach “but they now consider it to be unsustainable, due to running costs and low patronage”.

The committee will be told that according to the patronage data provided by Stagecoach, there is an average of two passengers per day travelling on the 07:40 journey.

“If correct, this would give a cost per passenger journey figure of £97.50,” says the report.

“In the recent bus review, the benchmark figure was £12.

“It is recommended to not replace these journeys due to the very low value for money figure.”

Service 25:

Stagecoach have cancelled service 25, currently operating between Trumpington Park & Ride and Babraham Road Park & Ride via the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Route 25 also serves the southern section of the Great Kneighton development in Trumpington.

Busway A also passes through the centre of the development, providing access to Trumpington Park & Ride, Royal Papworth Hospital (for Francis Crick Avenue), Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge railway station with onward journeys to Cambridge city centre, King’s Hedges, and villages on the Busway track enroute to St Ives.

The Combined Authority is now considering linking this into the precept work, i.e. using the Mayoral precept to consider supporting it.

“Higher frequency services from Trumpington to the rail station and Addenbrooke’s is on the precept suggestion list,” says the report.

“If analysis comes out from that process that suggests improvements, officers can package it together and work further with the local community on an integrated approach.”

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