The GCP Transport Director presented a report which updated the Joint Assembly on the City Access workstreams, with a focus on developing options for securing a step-change in public transport, reducing congestion and improving air quality in Greater Cambridge. The public transport offering needed to go far beyond what already existed, with significant improvements in journey time and reliability needed.
Councillor Wilson commented that the diagram of proposed routes excluded many villages; it was important that the residents of these villages knew that they would not be overlooked. As the local member for Cottenham, one of the largest villages in South Cambridgeshire, Councillor Wilson pointed out that the bus from Cottenham to Cambridge took one hour and as such, was not a viable option for people commuting to work. Furthermore she pointed out that neither the stations nor Addenbrooke’s could be reached from Cottenham without changing buses. The Oakington Rural Travel Hub would link to the guided busway however there was no bus service that linked Cottenham to Oakington and the busway. For people who would have to drive from Cottenham to the travel hub, only 41 parking spaces were proposed. Cottenham was a community of over 6000 residents, which would increase to 8000 with future development, and a good public transport solution was needed.
Councillor Massey commented that it was vital that the city access project also focussed on villages outside the city. She suggested the reintroduction of the bus and bike service may be an option for rural communities to access their rural travel hubs. Faster and affordable public transport was needed across the city and from the villages, which was cheaper for people to use than their cars. Extremely low public transport fares were needed. Councillor Massey and Baigent wanted to see something worked up on free bus transport. Councillor Massey pointed out that people living within the city had to change buses to get to the train stations and hospital, which was not acceptable. A better public transport system was needed now; she pointed out that Newmarket Road was at a standstill at peak hours and the weekends, and development in the area would make this situation worse.
Councillor Kavanagh reiterated previous comments regarding the need for cycling improvements and felt this point had not been made strongly enough in the report. He suggested the GCP should build on the alternative modes of transport people were already using, such as cycling. More people would cycle if they felt it was safer to do so, therefore segregation of cyclists from other road users should be a top priority. A network of segregated cycle routes and safe junctions for cyclists was needed across the city, expanding what had already been achieved on Hills Road and Huntingdon Road.
Christopher Walkinshaw welcomed the report, in particular the emphasis it put on capacity issues. He suggested that reference to the number of people coming from outside the area and capacity issues on orbital routes, was missing from the report.
Andy Williams commented that the city access scheme was the top priority scheme for businesses. The importance of improving city access from surrounding areas needed to be emphasised.
Councillor Topping felt there was not enough in the report to explain the attraction of the proposals for the villages of South Cambridgeshire. He pointed out that economic growth was happening in South Cambridgeshire rather than Cambridge city.
Dr Wells commented that the emphasis on journey times was key however the way in which this would be achieved needed more discussion. He echoed the need to keep in mind the South Cambridgeshire villages and where people from these villages interchanged.
Councillor Baigent suggested that in order to make public transport more attractive, disincentives may be needed to encourage its increased use. He emphasised the need to be able to move around Cambridge quickly and cheaply by public transport and pointed out that it was quicker to get around Cambridge by bicycle. He suggested the GCP should be increasing the argument to provide cheaper and free transport around the city and South Cambridgeshire, in order to get people out of their cars.
Councillor Wotherspoon expressed concern about intelligent charging, pointing out that representatives from Transport for London did not think that congestion charging would work in Cambridge, as the city did not have the critical mass nor the universal access to public transport that was needed to make such a charge fair and equitable. A way of funding a public transport network without penalising drivers for having to use their cars to get into central Cambridge, was needed.
Councillor Bick welcomed the report, pointing out that more car free roads would make cycling safer.
The wording of questions being asked of the public and the information that accompanied the questions, was vital. Councillor Sollom expressed support for the idea of a citizens’ assembly.
The GCP Transport Portfolio Holder was keen to ensure that rail was progressed. He highlighted the need to include residents who lived just outside the South Cambridgeshire border in public consultation, as many of these residents commuted to Cambridge.