County ahead on transport

CAMBRIDGESHIRE, one of only two areas outside London where bus usage is on the increase, is once again showing the rest of the country how to implement transport policies. Hard on the heels of achieving beacon status for transport, the county council has

CAMBRIDGESHIRE, one of only two areas outside London where bus usage is on the increase, is once again showing the rest of the country how to implement transport policies.

Hard on the heels of achieving beacon status for transport, the county council has been declared Transport Local Authority of the Year at a ceremony in London.

The accolade will give added impetus to the council's bid for £500million in Government sweeteners to improve public transport ahead of the introduction of congestion charging in Cambridge city, possibly as early as 2011.

A panel of independent transport experts said that Cambridgeshire had turned bucking trends - including the decline in bus use across most of the country - into a virtual art form, through policies that have also led to fewer cars in Cambridge city centre, and a reduction in serious accidents, despite being one of the Government's designated growth areas.


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"The award recognises the massive achievements made by the council and its partners in reducing congestion, bringing fatalities and serious injury accidents to an all-time low, boosting walking, cycling and seeing massive increases in bus passengers," said a spokesman.

The Local Transport Plan and five-year progress report on the previous plan were both rated "excellent" by Government in December last year, bringing Cambridgeshire a £6million reward grant.

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Achievements include a 20.8 per cent increase in bus patronage countywide; keeping the number of motor vehicles entering and leaving Cambridge stable despite a growth in population; a 23 per cent reduction in the number of deaths and serious injuries in road accidents since 1998, including lowering the numbers of children killed or injured.

Cambridgeshire's figure for the number of people killed or seriously injured on the county's roads is at an all time low of 417.

The number of passengers using park-and-ride facilities has grown by 71 per cent since 2001, with more than 1.6 million trips now made annually.

The county council holds six Government Chartermarks for excellence in transport provision, and in 2004 was the only county council to achieve beacon status for public transport. The council is also a Transport Centre of Excellence.

Council leader Councillor Shona Johnstone said: "This national recognition is further evidence of the great strides we have made in delivering integrated transport in Cambridgeshire over the past few years.

"I am absolutely thrilled for all the staff involved, who have worked so hard to deliver these results.

"A joined-up partnership approach to transport is what really distinguishes Cambridgeshire from the other authorities. We have closely linked planning and transport policy and have never been afraid to take brave decisions.

"We have a massive challenge on our hands to deal with the enormous housing and traffic growth coming to Cambridgeshire."

The judges for the awards included Transport Times publisher Professor David Begg, who chaired the Government's Commission for Integrated Transport for several years after it was set up in 1997.

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