Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bus Stops on Milton Road

When I was a Councillor back in 2008 I opened the new Park and Ride building at Milton. I was very pleased to be involved in the expansion of the Park and Ride service. The new building was fantastic and provided a really nice environment for people using the service.

In fact we should be very proud of Park and Ride service, it is used by thousands of people each year, reducing the number of cars coming into Cambridge. It is the envy of many Cities and Town's across the Country. There is just one problem though...

The Park and Ride from Milton used to stop outside the Golden Hind. This made it a very useful service for the people of East Chesterton. I can understand the reason, but cannot agree, for that stop being withdrawn, which was to speed up the service into the City for the Park and Ride users. It was also stated that the residents of East Chesterton have the Citi2, which is all well and fine in theory. But in practise the Citi2 service is not frequent enough, and residents have said to me that it is very unreliable. Residents say they stand waiting for a bus, when 3 or 4 fly past them with empty seats on them. I can understand that frustration. I use the bus service regularly and when the bus is late, yet empty ones have driven right past you it is entirely frustrating.

So I will lobby to get stagecoach to reintroduce the bus stop on Milton Road. I firmly think this would be the best option. It can't take that long to stop and pick up a few people. I am sure it wouldn't stop people using the Park and Ride, but would improve the lives of the people watching them go right past them.

I will also never fully understand why there can't be express buses and non express buses. One of the arguments I always hear for improved bus services is how long the journey takes. If the train service can provide express trains and ones that take longer, why cant buses? Stagecoach has all the data relating to how many people get on the buses and where etc. It could draw up a new progressive timetable looking at what is needed and where. It seems to me that the Bus services, not only in Cambridge but Cambridgeshire, has become more about ticket sales and less about the people buying those tickets. This is all well and good for Stagecoach, but perhaps is a symptom of the monopoly they have on bus services.

There are pro's and cons to a monopoly. Stagecoach have invested heavily into the local area, and they can do that because they know they will benefit from the investment. But where does that leave the bus user? Invariably waiting out in the rain as a bunch of buses with empty seats flies right past them.

Now this is not about Stagecoach bashing, because I do think they have done some very good things around Cambridgeshire. But there are lots and lots of people that have absolutely no alternative to Stagecoach. It's these people I want to fight for. I appreciate Stagecoach has to make a profit, as without profit they wouldn't be here very long. They also invest in upgrading their stock of buses very regularly, although if I said that to the people out in the rural areas' they would disagree as they always get the Cambridge cast off's.

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