St Neots to get hourly Cambridge bus service - Offords set to lose out

ST NEOTS will soon have buses to and from Cambridge every 15 minutes.

Operator Stagecoach is to introduce and X4 service of single-decker buses to strengthen the half-hourly X5 coach service between Cambridge and Oxford via St Neots and Bedford.

The new route will provide direct links from Eaton Socon and Love’s Farm and a faster Cambourne to Cambridge service, the company said this week.

It is one of a number of changes to be introduced on June 10 against a background of Cambridgeshire County Council cutting back on subsidised bus services to save cash.

But the news is less good for bus passengers in Great Paxton and the Offords, who will lose their Stagecoach buses in a rationalisation of St Neots-Huntingdon services.

In what the operator stresses is a “commercial experiment”, the 66 will now run hourly through Little Paxton, avoiding the level crossing in Offord Cluny and the narrow bottleneck between the railway and Buckden Marina.

Other changes in St Neots include the 62/63/64 town services to linking Eaton Socon and Loves Farm to Cambridge as new route X4, with Eynesbury linked through to Little Paxton and Huntingdon as route 66, with the subsidised route 61 link to the railway station continuing for the time being.

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Elsewhere, route 30, the Ramsey-Warboys-Huntingdon service loses its subsidy and will run in future as an entirely commercial service, two-hourly from Ramsey, but hourly between Warboys and Huntingdon. Most journeys will extend from Ramsey to Forty Foot, Mereside, Pondersbridge, St Mary’s, Heights and Upwood, Stagecoach said.

Andy Campbell, Stagecoach East managing director, insists innovation and partnership working with the local authority are key to the company’s continued success.

“The Cambridge Citi network has been in place for over 10 years, offering high-frequency bus routes across the city. Achieving phenomenal growth in ridership, the principles were introduced into Peterborough in 2004 with similar success. In parallel we have not ignored the needs of the market towns and rural communities.

“We now face our greatest challenge – to offer a sustainable service in these areas against a background of reduced funding and increased fuel taxation.”

The company says the solution is threefold:

community minibus schemes in remote areas;

conventional bus services run on a commercial basis, even though this might be a reduction in the current level of service; and

routes that will always need some financial support to run as conventional bus routes – in some cases combining the movement of schoolchildren with the few customers who rely on the bus.

INFORMATION: Full details will be posted on the Stagecoach website next week.