Mayor slams 'unacceptable' cuts as Stagecoach reveals plans to axe 18 Cambridgeshire bus routes

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Cambridgeshire's mayor has slammed a bus company's "unacceptable" plans to axe 18 routes.

Stagecoach East confirmed it would be withdrawing the services in the county due to "significant falls in passenger numbers" after the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the company also stressed that the affected routes only represent 6% of the network and 12 other services would actually be "enhanced".

The changes, which mainly affect rural parts of the county in the Huntingdonshire and Fenland areas, are scheduled to come into force from 30 October.

Dr Nik Johnson

The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, has spoken to the company.

He said: "We tried to say 'are you really sure that you want to reduce this, or do you want to come away from the contracts that you have with a combined authority', but with the decision that they were to proceed despite actually receiving the bus recovery grant from the government, I can only say I'm hugely disappointed."

Richard Wood lives in Cambridge and is Secretary of the Cambridge Area Bus Users Group. He said: "There are whole swathes of rural areas who are going to be without a bus service.

"Over to the east of Cambridge, all the villages, Quy, Bottisham, the Swaffhams, Fordham and so on, are going to be completely cut off from public transport."

Richard Wood from The Cambridge Bus Users Group Credit: ITV Anglia

Which routes are being cancelled?

  • 11/X11

  • 12

  • 18

  • 25

  • 39

  • 915

  • V1

  • V2

  • V3

  • V4

  • V5

  • 22

  • 30

  • 35

  • 66

  • 23

  • 24

  • 29

Some routes into Cambridge are due to be cancelled. Credit: PA

Among the most popular routes being cancelled is the 11/X11 service which serves Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds, while Route 12, between Ely and Cambridge, is also due to be axed.

Councillor Lorna Dupré, from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Liberal Democrats, said that the changes would "devastate" the bus network in the area.

“Stagecoach is planning to devastate the bus network in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which is a lifeline for many residents of our three cities and our market towns as well as our villages," she said.

“Every part of the county will be severely affected by these changes. Most of the routes between St Ives and surrounding villages will be cut. Large villages and towns like Burwell, Soham, Sutton, Melbourn, Bottisham and Godmanchester won’t have a bus service any more. There won’t be a bus route that goes to the major business park at Lynch Wood in Peterborough.

“Residents are worried about how to get their children to school, and fearful for their own jobs if they have no means to get to work. They will be cut off from health care, leisure, and retail."

That view was backed up by local Conservative MP, Anthony Browne, who called the cuts "abhorrent."

"This news will be a hammer blow to those residents who rely on these routes. Having only recently received Government money to keep such services running, it is abhorrent that Stagecoach should consider cutting people’s access to local amenities," Mr Browne said.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach said that some routes are no longer financially viable Credit: ITV Anglia

Responding to the criticism, Stagecoach East's managing director, Darren Roe, said that the company had been forced to make "some very difficult decisions" and couldn't afford to continue to operate services "which we know are no longer financially viable."

“Overall, services are operating at around 75 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger levels, with concessionary travel for older people dropping to as low as 55 per cent," said Mr Roe.

“The 18 affected routes have been losing £12 per passenger per journey on average. Some of them, where numbers have dropped as low as around only 50 customers per week, are costing up to £80 per passenger.

"We remain focused on working closely with our local authority partners to make the best use of passenger fares and public investment in services, to deliver the widest and most sustainable network we can for local communities."

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