Bus Special: Limited options and exhausting three-hour trip’
Ella Walker Route: St Neots to Somersham Car Journey: 23 miles (40mins) Bus Journey: £5.60 single Time: 2h 40mins (inc 40mins wait) IT TOOK almost three hours to get from St Neots to Somersham. Now this is a long time, but having scoured the internet usin
Route: St Neots to Somersham
Car Journey: 23 miles (40mins)
Bus Journey: £5.60 single
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Time: 2h 40mins (inc 40mins wait)
IT TOOK almost three hours to get from St Neots to Somersham.
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Now this is a long time, but having scoured the internet using www.stagecoachbus.com and www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk for information on bus services, my options were limited.
Most normal people looking to make this journey would surely take the train from St Neots to Huntingdon, but this is a bus test, and so I opted for the X5 Stagecoach service from St Neots to Cambridge. The theory was that I would change to the 15/15A Stagecoach service to St Ives, getting off one hour and 15 minutes into the journey at Somersham.
The X5 departed from St Neots at 9.20am and arrived in Cambridge 40 minutes later at the cost of £3 for a single ticket or £5 return.
The X5 passes through St Neots every 30 minutes and was on time. The driver, I have to say, was surprisingly helpful as I fired questions at him about ticket prices while a queue stood waiting, and the road was being blocked by the coach.
I can now publicly apologise for the delay.
Most commuters had already made it to work by now, so the coach was filling up with shoppers heading for the city.
The padded seats and optional forced air ventilation made the 40-minute journey comfortable, but my comfort was crushed at end of my journey by a 45-minute wait for the 15/15A.
This service runs just once an hour, but we departed on time at 10.45, after handing over the £2.60 needed for a single fare
(a dayrider pass allows a return trip for £4.50).
As expected, the trip to Somersham took 75 minutes, and the passengers were mainly women bringing their shopping back from the Bar Hill supermarket.
The experience was dull, lengthy and difficult to organise. Alternative routes were difficult to find and even then, services seemed limited. For example, there was a service from Huntingdon through St Ives to Somersham, but from the information I found, it appeared to run only once a day.
The buses were all on time, but it was extremely difficult to locate a quick route and the expense was shocking. To take this journey five days a week, return, would cost £47.50 totalling £190 a month (although this reduces to about £70-80 for a monthly pass).
Having got back to the office, I was told I could have cut an hour from my journey had I picked another route - an exasperating end to a three-hour journey.
* Editor's note: Traveline does show the 20-mile journey can be completed in just under two hours using the 566 operated by Huntingdon & District to Huntingdon bus station, transferring to the 553 (also operated by Huntingdon & District) to St Ives and finally service 15 (operated by Stagecoach) to Somersham.