FOLLOWING last year’s cuts to the X5 service, which were characterised as ‘what customers want’ rather than the more honest ‘for our operational convenience and profit’, Stagecoach is at it again with effect from 10 June.
With an economical-with-the-truth press release on April 26, a 'new' X4 service was announced from Eaton Socon to Cambridge as follows: new route X4will now link Eaton Socon and Love's Farm to Cambridge, with Eynesbury linked through to Little Paxton and Huntingdon as route 66. Route 63 will not operate from this date.
The truth of the matter can be found by looking at details for the Citi4, which is withdrawn between St Neots and Cambridge and a perusal of the timetable for the 'new' X4 (replacing the 62) which reveals that all daytime services no longer call at St Neots railway station in either direction. Stagecoach participation in the 'Town Circular' services ceases from June 10.
So what we will have is a half-hourly Stagecoach one-way-round-the-Eatons service, which is not even co-ordinated with whatever Whippet will provide, currently one bus every hour to the present 20 minute town circular service (and who were apparently not even consulted about the Stagecoach changes) running straight along Cambridge Road to Love's Farm.
This effectively destroys the one piece of co-ordinated transport that St Neots had, a once per hour connection between bus and train at the railway station outside peak hours. The X4 cannot even be called an express service as its time from Eaton Socon to Cambridge is 65 minutes off-peak as opposed to the 41 minutes of the X5, presumably because in addition to the Cambourne Morrisons stop this 'express' service calls at the places that were deemed unsuitable for an express service when the X5 cuts were implemented last year.
The question for Stagecoach (as presumably the county council has withdrawn from all interest in the matter) is: why can the X4 not follow the route of the former Citi4 and 62 and serve St Neots railway station?
Letters have been written to Stagecoach East, the county councillors for the area and our Member of Parliament protesting about the clear disregard for the policy of 'green' co-ordinated transport supposedly endorsed by both Stagecoach and Government alike. Needless to say, no response has been forthcoming.
Editor's note: Stagecoach says that, while the new X4 would not service the railway station outside the morning and evening rail peaks, it would serve Love's Farm, which will in future be connected to the station by a new pedestrian footbridge with full disabled access. The X4 would also offer a more direct Cambourne-Cambridge service.