I AM a frequent user of service 46 by Stagecoach through the Alconburys, which Stagecoach will withdraw without, apparently, any consultation with councils or other stakeholders.
The 46 bus service is an important link in the sustainability of the local community, namely Alconbury (population 1,720), Alconbury Weston (pop. 820), and Upton (pop. 210).
It is an important feeder service to the guided bus, local hospitals and the railway stations of Huntingdon and Peterborough.
Young people and the elderly, in particular, are totally dependent on this service. Young people cannot afford to run a car (insurance premiums of £2,000); apprentices who are paid peanuts would not be able to reach their place of employment. Elderly people lose the ability to drive due to failing health, and this section of the population is increasing.
I know of two students living in the villages who have decided to move to the sixth form at the excellent new art department at Cambridge Regional College, based on the fact that they can take the 46 service and guided bus, which stops at the college.
Why did CCC make the investment in the guided bus only for bus companies to withdraw vital feeder services?
If the 46 service is withdrawn completely, there will be no public transport to the new enterprise zone, which is based on sustainability and eco-friendliness – not on generating more car journeys.
There must be alternative solutions for Stagecoach to consider:
Reduce costs with a reduced service such as every two hours or services in the morning/evening peak but to include at least one return journey eligible for bus pass holders.
Increase passenger traffic by reducing single fares between villages, which are too high Introduce low fares for students in full-time education during school holidays.
Consider summer promotions like Whippet did last summer with £1 for any journey between Huntingdon and Cambridge.
Editor’s note: Andy Campbell, Stagecoach managing director, responds: “The company has recently registered changes to its commercial service 46 between Peterborough and Huntingdon. In doing so the local authority receives a copy of our proposed timetable, which leads to an opportunity to discuss this and to provide them with information of customer journeys that might be adversely affected.
“At the same time we have registered a new route B from Peterborough to Huntingdon, which continues to Cambridge using the guided busway. The new route runs hourly throughout the day, Monday to Saturday. The new route calls at Sawtry and will therefore replace most of the current passenger journeys to and from Huntingdon.
“Our decision on commercial grounds is therefore to operate route 46 only between Peterborough and Stilton hourly, except for an extension to Sawtry Village College.
“I would expect to confirm the final detail of both timetables very soon, before starting to market the changes in advance of the July start date.”