Getting to route of problem

Bus travel is not an easy option for many (perhaps most) people as your five commuters demonstrated (Hunts Post, July 25). And, while Cambridgeshire County Council is doing its best to make the bus a more attractive option (guided busway, contraflow bus l

Bus travel is not an easy option for many (perhaps most) people as your five commuters demonstrated (Hunts Post, July 25).

And, while Cambridgeshire County Council is doing its best to make the bus a more attractive option (guided busway, contraflow bus lanes, rising bollards, real-time bus information, park-and- ride, bus users' forum, for example), it cannot hope to succeed while we are stuck with the current legislative framework.

That legislation forces bus companies to compete with each other in a free-for-all on the roads, which is wasteful and inefficient because the real competition comes not from other bus companies but from the motor car.

What the travelling public needs is a coherent network of bus routes with frequent service, convenient connections and integrated fares, if people are to have the confidence to leave their cars at home.

I have a good bus service to Cambridge, which I use for travel to and from work. I can use it for an evening out in Cambridge as there is a return service at 11pm - but not everyone is so lucky. There isn't a bus, however, from St Ives to the cinema in Huntingdon.

The service to Huntingdon bus station is pretty good, but what if I need to go to Hinchingbrooke Hospital or carry a suitcase to Huntingdon station?

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Will the contraflow bus lane allow H & D and Whippet to extend their buses right though to those destinations?

I am only too familiar with half-empty buses chasing each other along the roads to Huntingdon and Cambridge.

There may be five buses an hour during the day, but what's the use if the two companies won't accept each others' multi-journey tickets?

In London, bus services are organised in a quite different way. They are co-ordinated by a public body (London Buses, a subsidiary of Transport for London) which plans the bus routes and manages the competitive bus route tendering process.

Cars will always be necessary for certain journeys and it is unrealistic to imagine that rural areas can ever be served by such an intensive bus network as cities.

But, if the Government is serious about reducing carbon emissions, it should be promoting a sensible and sustainable public transport system throughout the country.

At the very least, bus companies must be allowed to co-operate rather than compete and to participate in joint-fare schemes, and county councils need the power to co-ordinate the services the bus companies offer.

ANDREW BETHUNE

Priory Road

St Ives

Editor's note: The Multibus ticket (a county council initiative costing £6 a day or £25 a week) covers nearly all bus journeys in Cambridgeshire, whatever the operator. Bus usage in Cambs increased by 10 per cent last year.

WE moved recently to Little Paxton from Huntingdon. My daughter attended Hinchingbrooke School and we were so pleased to find out bus route 566 ran from the end of the road to the school, meaning my daughter would not have to change schools.

On a Saturday before my daughter was due to go to school, I escorted her on the bus to Huntingdon so that she would be fully aware of the journey to and from Huntingdon. The cost of a return ticket for my daughter and me was £6.90 (£4.60 for me, £2.30 for my daughter) which astounded me, but I thought the cost was not too bad for my daughter to get to school and back.

On the Monday morning, I walked along to the bus stop with my daughter. When she got on the bus she was asked for a fare of £4.60. I told the driver she was a child and needed to pay the child fare, which he agreed and off she went.

On the Tuesday, my daughter was happy to go to the bus stop on her own. Ten minutes later, she returned home stating the bus driver would not let her on the bus as she did not have enough money - he had asked for £4.60. I was very annoyed to say the least. If I had left for work, my daughter would have been locked out of the house all day.

I had to then take her to school because the next bus would come too late.

I phoned the bus company (Huntingdon & District) to check the fares, only to be told there are no child fares before 9am. I could not believe that I would be expected to pay £4.60 a day for my child to attend school.

No wonder people opt not to use public transport. Is the bus company deliberately trying to stop schoolchildren using the bus service because of the few disruptive children that may cause a nuisance?

I now have to take my daughter to the train station and pick her up from the station.

This is very frustrating for me and my daughter when the bus stops at the end of the road.

SHARON FULLER

Parkside

Little Paxton

I WAS most interested to read your piece of nonsense called the "Big Bus Test." The bus provides mass transit, not transport for a few individuals. Three of your five tests were for journeys for which there will never be the demand for such provision.

As your piece says, the cost of a new single-decker is about £100,000. Then there are the running costs for the driver, fuel, maintenance and so on. It is ludicrous to suggest that a bus service would be provided between Sawtry and Ramsey, where the demand is probably for fewer than 10 journeys a day.

While the car is available, such journeys will be more economically provided by the car. I am sure that Paul Richardson rarely experiences congestion on his journey and would not cause it either. Of course, within two or three generations private motoring may not be available and people will have to consider alternatives.

I was fascinated to see that Lisa Pennells can make the journey between St Ives and South Cambridge in 40 minutes. I am sure that is true on a good day. But how many times in recent weeks has it taken her more than an hour when there has been a problem on the A14 or M11. Those travelling on such journeys at normal work times will both experience and cause congestion.

When it comes to costs, the article provides information about fares on a single-day basis and even then it seems to be inaccurate. It would appear that Lisa Pennells's journey could be made for £6 for a single day or £25 for a week using a 'Multibus' ticket. Of course, that is not to say that bus travel is cheap. It is well known that, while private motoring costs have reduced in recent times, those for public transport have increased.

JOHN HOLMES

Waveney Road

St Ives

BEING a great bus rider - I have no car - may I make a special plea? For those of us who are elderly and unable to use the internet, can we return to the old-fashioned idea of having bus timetables at major stops?

I have phoned Huntingdon & District, the district council, the county council and Traveline, but without success. Nobody seems to take responsibility for buses around St Neots, Eynesbury and Eaton Socon and what times they are supposed to be running.

Mrs J BROADBENT

Lady Way

Eaton Socon

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