Too late to be any use!

I HAVE often contemplated life here in Cambourne without a car. I noticed that your trainee bus travellers (The Hunts Post, July 25) all started their journeys quite late in the morning, probably assuming a 9am arrival time. If you look at the journeys a

I HAVE often contemplated life here in Cambourne without a car. I noticed that your trainee bus travellers (The Hunts Post, July 25) all started their journeys quite late in the morning, probably assuming a 9am arrival time.

If you look at the journeys again assuming an 8am start or earlier, which is quite common for people working in factories, shops, and even bus and van driving companies, all occupations as common in this area as office work, it is near-impossible to get anywhere in time to start work on time unless you travel the night before.

I tried journey searches on Traveline to arrive in several destinations at 7.30am, travelling from several places.

It seems that the last time the local bus services were actually run as a public service was when they were run by the national bus service. Nowadays, services are run as money-making operations, and the less-used routes through villages everywhere, if not subsidised by the council, are often dropped or cut by transport operators.

Until it is possible for a working person to be able to get to work, at least in the towns of the area, at whatever time they need to be there, it will be very difficult to prise many from their vehicles.

The transport operators and local councils need to start being honest about what they want, what they can do, and how important they view the needs of the local population and businesses, weighed against how important the financial aspect of it all is.

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Until then, we will all just stay in this never-ending loop of discussions about underused/over-priced public transport versus the car.

Somebody has got to give first, and it seems to me that the transport companies and council need to run a few more early-morning services, which may tempt early commuters out of their cars and would, no doubt, pay dividends in the long run.

LEN REEVES, Osier Way, Great Cambourne

* THE readers' experiences of bus travel in Cambridgeshire are dismal but not surprising.

My regular journey to St Neots station is pretty easy and cheap - one-tenth the cost of parking there - but it is clearly the exception. I work all around the south-east but, apart from the fantastic X5, very few towns are a reasonable proposition - the extreme being Sandy, with one bus a week and no published timetable.

The sad thing is, while the Cambridgeshire politicians throw everything at the busway, the basic essentials are forgotten. Stop signs missing, timetables on display years out of date, if any, inexplicable gaps in the service, adjacent towns with no route joining them. None of these inspire confidence but there seems very little political will to sort them out.

There seems to be an assumption that the bus is there only for the desperate and the selfless environmentalist. Even the timetable-by-text service has been around for a couple of years, and many authorities publicise it well, but only about four stops of the 100 or so in St Neots display their codes.

Perhaps if those who make the big decisions about our transport were forced to use the system they designed for the rest of us . . .

Councillor JULIA HAYWARD, St Neots Town Council, Collingwood Road, Eaton Socon

* WHEN is the bus service 18 and 18A going to stop at St Neots railway station on a regular basis? The first 18 bus from Cambourne at 6.20am is the only one that goes to the railway station.

And don't be late home from St Neots. The last 18 bus leaves at 6.17pm via the railway station to Cambourne.

The service is operated by Stagecoach, which also runs a rail franchise.

TOM HUDSON, Greenhaze Lane, Great Cambourne

* I READ with interest the findings of your volunteers who, albeit with some difficulty, were able to complete their bus journeys.

Imagine how the residents of Papworth and Eltisley feel when, wishing to travel to and from Cambridge or St Neots and beyond, cannot do so following the axing of the evening bus service through both villages.

Stagecoach blames Cambridgeshire County Council for cutting the subsidy and CCC blames Stagecoach for wishing to operate a commercial enterprise.

The crass hypocrisy displayed by the council starts with a spread in a magazine issued free to residents, beating the drum about getting out of our cars and using public transport. It continues with its unwillingness to use any of the recently-publicised underspend achieved by the council to reinstate even part of the missing service, which I find socially unacceptable and morally indefensible.

To make matters worse, the council has just commissioned a survey seeking people's views on local transport issues. I wonder whether they will ever learn the outcome of this survey - as if we didn't know already.

R A ROGERS, Willow Views, St Neots

* I AM not surprised by the comments in your "Bus Special".

Every day I make the journey on a bus from St Ives to Cambridge for which I pay more than £20 a week for the privilege. These are some of the problems I encounter:

* Buses that do not run to the timetables, especially in the evenings.

* Getting soaking wet/cold because neither of the bus stops I use has a bus shelter and I often have a long wait for a bus.

* The rudeness and unhelpful manner of some of the drivers (thankfully, not all of them) is mind-blowing. They seem to think they do not have to stop at the bus stops, even if you are waving them down frantically to stop and then, when you get on the bus, they take off at high speed before you are in a seat.

* The final straw recently was to encounter a driver who could not speak a word of English. He just had a card with all the routes and fares and he indicated to passengers to point to this. If an emergency had occurred on his bus, he would not have been able to assist in any way.

The guided bus is supposed to help resolve some of problems with the buses (although I cannot see which ones) but no-one knows the route it will take once it gets to Cambridge. Many passengers may have to take another bus for offices in the Shire Hall area.

Whatever happens with the buses, I think that people will remain in their cars. At least they are isolated from the sheer horror of public transport.

Mrs MARY HODGE, Tennyson Avenue, St Ives