As this is written two important events are imminent. On Wed 17 June the Climate Coalition, which our parent body the Campaign for Better Transport is part of, is organising a mass lobby of Parliament. Meet outside the House of Commons at noon. Further details can be seen on the CBT website. Transport activists have a particular responsibility to emphasise what many other campaigners seem to have forgotten or ignored, that cars, lorries and planes make a very significant contribution to climate change, and that a more sustainable transport policy would not only considerably reduce this but bring improvements to most people's quality of life. If you can't be there why not email or write to your MP saying that you are doing so in conjunction with the lobby campaign?
The other event is the People's Assembly anti-austerity march on Sat 20 June. The Campaign for Better Transport will be organising a "Save our Buses" section -- look out for their banner. The rally assembles at the Bank of England on Queen Victoria St at noon and marches to Parliament Square. For more details see the People's Assembly website -- again it's the headline article. Coaches are being organised by the Cambridge People's Assembly -- some details are on the above website. Or choose the greater flexibility of public transport -- the direct trains from Cambridge to Liverpool St or National Express to Aldgate both go within reasonable walking distance of the Bank. And remember that there are cheap weekend fares on both rail routes. Like climate campaigners, anti-austerity campaigners too may need reminding that cuts to bus services are a key issue.
But let's get back to the climate issue which has figured perennially in our newsletters. As an organisation based in Cambridge, a city with a reputation as a home for science, it seems appropriate for us to call for science based government. By this we don't mean Harold Wilson's "white heat of technology", or its 21st century equivalent, whatever the case for this might be; rather we mean the application of the scientific method to decision making.
The archetype of the scientific method is the controlled experiment, but it isn't essential -- one can't experiment with the stars, but astronomy has moved on since the days when it was subject to the Pope's political power. What is essential is to make observations and use them to confirm or refute a hypothesis aimed at understanding what's going on, when one will be in a better position to decide whether one needs to take any action, and if so what.
With regard to climate change, the following are well established both by theory and by observation:
Sceptics disputed some of these findings for a long time. There is nothing wrong with this scientifically, as long as they also accepted the need for precautionary action in case they were wrong -- but all too often they have been using their scepticism as a reason not to act at all. But all the above are surely now sufficiently well established to be treated as the basis for action. It is time to stop sleepwalking from stage 1 of the crisis (no need to do anything) to stage 4 (too late to do anything), and figure out how to avoid passing from stage 2 (which can be countered by tweaking our lifestyle) to stage 3 (a full scale emergency). And, despite talk of geoengineering, the only proven way to slow down global warming is to reduce our emissions -- with 80% being a consensus figure for how much reduction we need to escape the worst effects.
In the UK transport accounts for about 1/3 of CO2 emissions, and a slightly lower proportion of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Within the transport sector, cars, planes and HGVs account for about 40%, 30% and 13% respectively -- and the bulk of the rest is due to shipping and light vans rather than trains and buses. Not only are cars less fuel efficient than public transport, but the differential would be even greater if buses and off peak trains didn't have so many empty seats -- largely because so many people are travelling by car. Planes and lorries are both less fuel efficient than trains (passenger and freight respectively). So if we want to reduce our emissions without sacrificing more than we can help of our hard won mobility, we need to move to more efficient means of transport. End of argument? If only...
There are other areas of government which could also do with an infusion of the scientific method. For example, back in 1986 the Government changed the procurement system in Britain outside London by deregulating our buses -- a kind of controlled experiment. Since then, bus use has tended to rise rapidly in London and decline in the rest of the country. London also has the most vigorous economy -- making houses there so desirable as to price out many of the people who now live there. As far as we're concerned, the transport deprivation suffered by many people outside London -- and not only in rural areas -- is sufficient reason to terminate the experiment, though a scientific purist might wish to test whether this would help to spread London's economic success and relieve its housing problems. But nobody's even doing that -- instead cuts at both government and local authority level are eliminating buses at the fastest rate since the 1980s.
On economics generally, it has been known ever since Keynes that one can't cut one's way to prosperity; that "structural adjustment", as it's euphemistically known, in the poorer countries is holding back development; and that economic failure helps to fuel social unrest -- for example leading to the rise of Hitler in 1933. Yet we are still stuck in a world where intervention in the market is a dirty word.
Specifically on transport, study after study has shown that upgrading major roads leads to traffic growth. This is even acknowledged by the Highways Agency (now Highways England) in principle, but it isn't incorporating the results of these studies into its models. That's the fundamental reason why the Coordinator -- and we hope some of our members -- has registered to object to the A14 scheme. Prof Phil Goodwin published an article on "induced traffic", as it's called, in "Local Transport Today" in 2006. The article is still relevant and those of you who have registered as interested parties could do worse than to cite it in their representations.
We are sending out renewal forms (and paper newsletters) to all members who haven't yet paid up for 2015-6. The rates are unchanged -- see page 1 of this newsletter or our website. We hope that you will renew promptly so that we don't have to send out a reminder. Note, however, that there may be some delay before you get your paper newsletter -- we are giving priority to getting it out by email in time for the two events that headline this newsletter.
A further event will be taking place in Bedford on Sat 4 July -- Claire Walters, the Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, will be speaking to the AGM of the Bedford Area Bus Users Society (BABUS). Both we and BABUS are affiliated to Bus Users UK. The AGM starts at 10.30 in Bedford library, a few minutes walk from the bus station.
Infrastructure news. The main item here is the approach of the public examination of Highways England's A14 proposals. Those who have registered as interested parties (and only those) will have the opportunity to send written representations (reminder: this needs to be done by Mon 15 June) and to speak at some of the hearings that are to be arranged.
The Coordinator's written representation will put forward two options: one, described as "do minimum", questions the wisdom of spending so much money on a project which is likely to defeat its purpose by accelerating traffic growth, especially with the current economic situation. It therefore calls for no change to the current route except for minor safety improvements, provision of a local road westward from Girton, and various improvements aimed at railfreight, public transport users, walkers and cyclists. The other option accepts the proposed alignment because of its potential benefits for Huntingdon (most of which won't be realised under the scheme as it now stands), but calls for considerable scaling down of the scheme, and capacity reduction on the routes that the new road is supposed to relieve, as well as the improvements referred to above.
Recently there has been some publicity about structural problems with the Cambs Guided Busway. Taking these into account we have also called for an assurance that lanes won't be closed by A14 upgrade work at the same time that the guided busway is out of action for repairs. We have also suggested that there might at least be a possibility that the problems with the busway will recur and lead to its being seen as unviable, in which case reinstatement of the railway all the way from Cambridge to Huntingdon should be on the cards, and to prepare for this we call for passive provision to be made for a railway in any reconstruction of the road layout in the vicinity of the Huntingdon viaduct.
We would also like to draw attention to a report commissioned by the Department for Transport which suggests that, to get the best value for money out of sustainable transport improvement projects, especially buses, the Government needs to provide revenue as well as capital funding -- which it is not doing with the City Deal scheme, for example. Unfortunately the terms of reference specifically exclude the issue we regard as most crucial, namely the need for revenue funding to maintain non-commercial bus services, and the question of whether this offers better value of money than major infrastructure schemes, from the A14 to the Cambs Guided Busway.
On the railways, projects in our area in progress or in the pipeline include Cambridge Science Park station; extra trains to Kings Lynn; extra capacity between Soham and Ely and through the rail layout in Ely; Thameslink trains south of Kings Cross (not, however, the Cambridge fasts) which should lead to more semi-fast trains from Peterborough and, hopefully, more trains between Cambridge and Hitchin including those serving intermediate stations. And political momentum seems to be building up behind the scheme to reopen the Wisbech branch to passengers. However, we are likely to have to wait a while for trains to Bedford and beyond.
After a year's closure for rebuilding Bedford bus station has reopened, with a new travel and tourism centre and a covered waiting area for most local buses. However, the X5 is still using the same area just outside the bus station, and work has not yet finished on some of the stops between the X5 stops and the main road.
Cambridge Cycling Campaign's Newsletter 117, whose website has a direct link from ours, has an article on "New Openings", describing several new routes in south Cambridge. They are, of course, also available to walkers. We'll leave it to them to sing the praises of the new routes for cyclists. Here is our take for walkers (see the map on their website for details).
Route 1: This route is aimed at a cycling problem and we would not expect it to be of much benefit to walkers.
Route 2. For walkers the most attractive route in the area is the public right of way through Empty Common, from which one should be able to cut through to the guided busway track. This route does not add much to that.
Route 3. This is a valuable route through the area of Trumpington Meadows not yet developed, and connects with a right of way to Hauxton village. At the north end we hope that it will link up with Trumpington Park & Ride site -- this may be possible "unofficially" at present (try it at the weekend when there's no building work), and one might also be able to get through to Byron's Pool. A direct linkup with the bridleway from Hauxton turn to Haslingfield would also be useful.
Route 4. If you're going from the station to Brooklands Avenue to catch a Uni 4 bus, this will provide a more pleasant walk than has hitherto been possible, though slightly longer.
Both Herts and Devon County Councils have completed their consultations and recommended heavy cuts to their supported services. You may wish to plan a holiday in Devon for this season before the cuts, which will affect several services providing important visitor access, take effect. In the last section we list some routes that may be useful and are currently in danger -- see the council website for full details of all the proposed cuts. Meanwhile neighbouring Somerset has continued to cut many of the services which had previously suffered from the 2012 purge.
Herts CC's cuts will affect several services that enter or pass close to Cambs -- the 23-25, 10/43 and 334/335. Visit Save Our Buses for a link to the web page where the cuts are spelt out in detail. Some of these cuts are quite far reaching -- for example it will be difficult to get back to Cambs from Luton in the evenings if buses to Hitchin are withdrawn at such times. In the Dunstable area in neighbouring Central Beds, the key inter-urban 61 between Aylesbury and Luton has been curtailed at Dunstable, the 31 to Whipsnade Zoo no longer runs on Sundays, and the 74 to Barton le Clay has been withdrawn altogether.
Meanwhile we are still awaiting news of the next phase of Cambs CC's retrogression. This is expected to involve cutback of route 75 to Orwell and removal of most of the 400-9 network -- all that's left being Monday to Friday journeys from the villages to Huntingdon for work and shopping, without even the availability of the return positioning workings that could provide access to places such as Hamerton Wildlife Park and Grafham Water.
Other Cambs news. Earlier this year Whippet were consulting on changes to their St Ives area services, which were due for implementation on the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. However they have not yet happened -- we presume that they are intending to introduce them when the changes to the tendered services mentioned in the last section, all of which they run, take place.
The main changes are as follows.
Routes 1A, 1B, 5: replaced by hourly journeys from Cambridge station and city centre to Bar Hill, Fenstanton, St Ives, Houghton, RAF Wyton and Huntingdon, plus an hourly shuttle between St Ives and the Hemingfords. This means that Whippet will no longer undercut Stagecoach in terms of journey times between St Ives and Huntingdon, and there will be no service between the Hemingfords and Huntingdon. There will, however, continue to be a half hourly overall Whippet service between Cambridge and Huntingdon -- see below for the alternative route.
Routes 1, 3: replaced by hourly journeys from Cambridge to Huntingdon via the West Cambridge site, Cambourne, Papworth and Godmanchester -- not serving Hilton -- plus a service about every 2 hours between Cambourne, Papworth, Hilton, Fenstanton and St Ives. The former will be numbered X3 and will provide the fastest link between Cambridge and Huntingdon (except for National Express). Overall service between Fenstanton and St Ives will remain half hourly.
Route 6: will provide one shopping journey from Papworth, Cambourne, Eltisley and Croxton to St Neots. There also seem to be improvements to route 9, but no timetable has been provided.
Guided buses: some extra services, but route D which provides a very limited link from Orchard Park to Cambridge station is to be taken off. However passengers from Castle St will have the new extension of the 1A, see above.
Incidentally, there are inconsistencies between Whippet's published leaflet, their website and Traveline regarding whether route 21 serves Holywell. The result of an enquiry that I made is that it does -- 08.50 from Ramsey, and, if required to set down, 14.15 from St Ives, both on Mondays only. Holywell is less than a mile from a really frequent bus service, the Cambs Guided Bus at the Fen Drayton stop, but unfortunately there's a river in the way and no bridge...
Whippet are no longer running their seaside day trips. This entails the loss of several local facilities, as mentioned in Newsletter 115.
As for Stagecoach, not much has happened to their services recently, but we should mention the new busway route R, which links Cambridge station with Trumpington Park & Ride at peak times only.
We should also mention the rebranded "Five Counties" service operated by Centrebus between Peterborough and Nottingham. This runs as route 9 between Peterborough and Oakham and then changes number to 19 for the run to Nottingham. As the bus runs through the connection is guaranteed -- which can be reassuring when the bus is delayed at level crossings on the section between Melton Mowbray and Oakham. The service is hourly -- better than when it was run as a through service by Barton till shortly after bus deregulation -- but much less suitable for days or weekends away as there is no Sunday service (Barton's was always well used) and the last through journey from Nottingham is at 14.35.
There is also some news on express coaches. The Megabus link from Cambridge to Birmingham has been reduced to 2 a day and no longer provides day trip facilities to Birmingham. 3 a day wasn't enough to make a dent in the A14's traffic problems, but it was better than what we have now. And National Express has introduced night coaches each way between Nottingham and Stansted Airport via Leicester, Peterborough, Huntingdon and Cambridge.
And on the trains, the Mon-Fri evening connectional problems at Peterborough now occur on Sundays too: the 20.45 ex Leeds arrives in Peterborough only a few minutes before the scheduled departure of the last connection to Cambridge, so to rely on getting home one has to use the 19.45 (or travel via Stevenage at higher cost). This is particularly serious on Sundays because the only late afternoon train serving all stops from Carlisle gets into Leeds at 19.43. It is, however, possible to get through via York on officially recognised connections between 21 June and 26 July.
We conclude with our usual roundup of special summer services and other routes useful to leisure travellers. This brings up to date our summary in Newsletter 119, with some extra items in Newsletter 120. Where no sources are given, full timetable information for buses can be obtained from Traveline. We use the notation ++ = new for 2015, + = improved, 0 = no change, - = reduced, -- = probably withdrawn, ? = no information. Closing dates for seasonal services are usually not given, but as high season is not yet with us there should be plenty of time to get the information to plan a visit.
Cambs, London and Herts: The Bike bus Cambridge-Gamlingay (0) may be used to visit Bourn Windmill (nearest stop Longstowe), which is opened by Cambridge PPF on selected Sun; though the Citi 4 stops closer at Cambourne. (Their other mill, Hinxton Watermill, can be visited by catching the 132 to Ickleton and walking from there.) Free Richmond Park minibus (0) Wed only till end Aug, leaving Ham Common (route 65) at 10.40, 11.45, 12.55, 14.10 and 15.15, and serving stops round the park in a clockwise circuit. A full round trip from any stop is recommended -- the easiest to reach is probably Richmond Gate. For a full timetable google "isabella plantation" then click on "Visitor information". Solar Shuttle in Hyde Park (0). Lee & Stort Boats run throughout the year from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park near Stratford (+), and in summer between Hertford and Ware (0), but not this year from Bishops Stortford (--). Paradise Wildlife Park bus (0) from Broxbourne is shown on Traveline as running till end Sept but we hope it will continue to run all year.
New this summer is the 84B (++) from St Albans to nearby Butterfly World, Sun till end Aug, with a through journey from Potters Bar station at 09.52. The route also serves the Verulamium Museum in St Albans. From 20 June St Albans will also have a daily 714 (++) running direct between Barnet and Luton Airport and continuing to Luton Town, including early morning and late evening services.
Essex: The seasonal Brightlingsea ferry is running again this year, including the occasional trips to Hythe (0, google "brightlingsea ferry" for details). We've been told that the heritage boat trips run by the local Museum will run again but no details are yet available. On Mondays it is possible to catch the 176 at 12.40 from Colchester station via the town centre to East Mersea and continue on the ferry to Brightlingsea, though except in the summer school holidays one needs to ring 01206 302200 or 07981 450169 to book (but the ferry runs without booking weekends till end Sept).
In 2013 the ferry at Burnham on Crouch introduced scheduled trips to connect with the community bus (174, 0) that runs on Tue and Sat between Wallasea Island and Southend. However it looks as if nowadays one has to prebook on 07704 060482. Wallasea is an RSPB nature reserve which will be developing its biodiversity using the spoil from London's Crossrail tunnels.
London Bus Company 381 (0) runs in conjunction with the Epping Ongar Railway and does a "round the villages" tour from North Weald to Epping with 3 round trips at weekends till end Sept and also on selected days midweek. The operator also runs the more direct 339 (0) as a shuttle service, in addition to which there are regular journeys by other operators. Some 339s extend to/from Shenfield.
As for other routes, the 300 (-) continues to run daily from Basildon and Stanford le Hope to Thameshaven Port giving access to some marshland walks, but the timetable now only provides 3 early morning journeys and 3 late afternoon journeys -- presumably that's the way the shifts of the port workers are organised, but it's less suitable for walkers. An interesting new route is the 333 (++) running Mon-Fri from Sudbury to Great Yeldham via the Hedinghams and Toppesfield, with 3 journeys each way.
Beds: For Bedford's community boat (0) see johnbunyanboat.org, and details of Wed trips between Danish Camp, near Willington, and Bedford in either direction (0).
Norfolk: In Newsletter 119 we mentioned boat trips from Hickling and How Hill (0) as the best available on the Broads. Both can be reached on Sanders 6 from North Walsham or Yarmouth or First 12 from Norwich or Wroxham, getting off at Sutton (for Hickling) or Ludham (for How Hill) -- or the driver may be able to let you off a but closer. A few buses divert via Hickling. Unfortunately the full Hickling trip only runs in the mornings and early evenings, but it should be possible to catch an early train from Cambridge on a Sat (when off peak fares are valid) and pick up the 6 at 09.07 from North Walsham or the 12 from Norwich (Castle Meadow) at 08.58 or Wroxham at 09.23, though the latter will mean a brisk walk to get to Hickling Broad in time. Advance booking for the boat advised on 01692 598276. There doesn't seem to be any timetable info online for the How Hill trip so ring 01603 756096 or 01692 678763.
The Coasthopper (0), operated by Stagecoach now that they have taken over Norfolk Green, continues to run year round, with a half hourly service daily in summer, between Kings Lynn and Sheringham via the coast road.
Bucks: The X17 (++) and 60 (0) provide buses daily from Aylesbury to Bicester and Bukingham respectively, where they connect with our X5. Use these to visit Quainton Windmill which is open on Sun mornings.
Rutland: Shorelink route 44 (-) runs only at weekends and will be withdrawn altogether after this season. Use it to visit operating days at the Rutland Railway Museum in Cottesmore, though as these are on Sun (3rd in the month) one has to travel by train to Oakham, and the trains don't start till midday.
Surrey: The 765 (0) is again doing a circular route from Dorking. The 40 and 50 (-) continue to serve Russ Hill Hotel but now only on Mon-Fri. There are other buses to Charlwood on Sat but nothing on Sun which is when the windmill opens.
Route 515/A (0) which runs daily between Kingston and Guildford serves gardens open to the public at Claremont (near Esher), Painshill (near Cobham) and Wisley. It also serves the Elmbridge Commons between Esher and Cobham.
Sussex: There is quite a lot to take note of here. Going through routes numerically, 3 (0) links Horsham with Shoreham on summer weekends, 10 (--) Brighton & Hove seafront service is not reintroduced, 13X (+) serves Beachy Head, 23 (0) links Horsham with Worthing 7 days a week, 31 (-) replaces 318 through Burwash, 47 (0) serves Alfriston on summer weekends, 49 (++) is a new route running on Wed from Eastbourne to Herstmonceux Observatory and Castle, 77-79 (+) serve the Downs from Brighton, 99 (0) serves Bignor on summer Sundays in addition to the weekday service which must be prebooked to leave the main road, 121 (+) serves Sheffield Park on both Sat and summer Sun, and some other journeys have a new route variation via Spithurst, 123 (0) has a summer Sun service, 125 (-) serves Firle, Glynde and Charleston 6 days a week replacing the 25 which last year did the Sat service, 126 (-) via Alfriston is considerably reduced except on Sundays, 130 (-) afternoon journeys to Rodmell are withdrawn but 123 is available, 131 now serves Firle and Ditchling Beacons on summer Sat, connecting at the latter with 79, 132 (-) is now mainly a Lewes town service, 246 (0) links Uckfield with Sheffield Park on Thur, 261 (+) is extended to run from East Grinstead via Uckfield and Barcombe Cross to Lewes 6 days a week, 270 (0) runs 6 days a week diverting via Horsted Keynes station on Sat, 349 (-) serving Bodiam has lost its Sun service, 591 (--) serving Ashdown Forest is not reintroduced, 769 (0) links Haywards Heath with Sheffield Park on Sun.
Hants, Isle of Wight and Dorset: Petersfield loses summer Sun buses on the 38 (-) to Alton and 67 (-) to Winchester, but the 37 (0) to Havant survives. Summer services M1 and M2 run to Marwell Zoo (0) and the Test Valley Community Bus (+) is extended to the Museum of Army Flying in Middle Wallop. The New Forest Tours (0) continue, with a new "Forest Bus Baby" (++) linking Hythe, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Ringwood and Moors Valley Country Park on summer weekends. The Beach Bus (0) will also return but the 139 (--) Ringwood-Southampton stopped some time ago. The Isle of Wight tours (0) continue, but there may be some cuts to services generally in the autumn. In Dorset the 50 (0) via the Sandbanks Ferry, the 44 (0) to Worth Matravers and the 275 (0) to Kimmeridge continue to run all year round (the 275 Thur only), and the X43 (0) will return to Swanage with a daily peak period link to Weymouth via Lulworth Cove. The 5 (0) links Swanage with Durlston Country Park daily.
West Country: This is likely to be the last season for Devon's Dartmoor Sunday Rover network, so take advantage while you can. Seasonal routes 48/82 (0) using the B3212 across Dartmoor, the 187 (0) between Okehampton and Gunnislake via Lydford, Tavistock and Morwellham, which links the Tamar Valley rail branch with the summer Sunday only Dartmoor line, and the 300 (0) between Minehead, Lynton and Ilfracombe are all on the hit list, as are many other Sunday services. Note that Morwellham is part of a World Heritage Site, though the complex nearly closed a few years ago -- no doubt party because of its remote location which will be exacerbated if the 187 is axed. However summer Sat service 271 (0) to Widecombe will survive though with a shorter season. In Exmoor services have already been cut with the 398 (-) Tiverton-Minehead split between Devon and Somerset, and the section north of Dulverton retained only on a 6 month trial -- we hope it will still be around for next year's Snowdrop Valley (see Newsletter 119). Other services in the area -- 25 (0) Taunton-Bampton-Dulverton and 307 (0) Barnstaple-Bampton Sat only -- are also on Devon CC's hit list. The former is likely to survive, but probably at a lower frequency.
Elsewhere, the free Sidmouth Hopper (0) continues to link the town with the Norman Lockyer Observatory, the Donkey Sanctuary at Salcombe Regis, and Peak Hill west of the town -- the last a suitable point to walk to Otterton on route 157.
In Cornwall there have been some cuts with the main operator (Western Greyhound) going out of business. But the basic network survives, and covers almost all of the coastline. The 79/A (-) route variation via Cotehele has been withdrawn, and it is not clear whether the park & ride boat between Hayle and St Ives (?) is running this year.
Moving to the east of the region, At the other end of the region, a free shuttle bus (0) continues to serve the American Museum near Bath. Route 121 between Bristol and Weston Super Mare has been recast as the A2 (+) between Nailsea and Weston. The airport is also served from South Wales by National Express coach 216 (+) which replaces a service formerly provided by First under the "Greyhound" brand made famous by the North American coach company (which is owned by First). This is, of course, not to be confused with Western Greyhound -- formerly First's main competitor in Cornwall!
And still further east, route 606 between Cheltenham and Broadway now has a Sunday service 606S (++) which runs through to Stratford.
Shropshire and Wales: The Pembrokeshire Coast (0) continues to have complete coverage throughout the year, and the Cardi Bach (+) will also run all year (though in both cases winter buses run on fewer days). The demand responsive Llyn/Lleyn peninsula bus has also returned (+), running 3 days a week (details). The Shropshire Hills Shuttles (780 and 783, 0) continue to run on summer weekends, though as with Rutland Shorelink the only access on Sundays is by train. There have been significant cuts in the Snowdon Sherpa network including the complete loss of the route following the A5 (-), see the unofficial website.
Yorkshire and Lancashire: The Dalesbus network (0) has managed to get funding this summer, but its future is by no means assured. In the Moors, East Yorkshire has continued to provide a service (ME1, 0) between Hull and Danby, though this is a far cry from the extensive and well used network we used to have. A Sunday service 184/5 (++) has started, linking Easingwold and York with Castle Howard and Helmsley by a completely new route. Note that the 184 and 185 appear separately on the N Yorks CC website, giving the impression that one has to get to a site on the outskirts of York to pick the latter up. York City's website gives the whole picture.
In West Yorkshire, the 500, 517, 900/1 and 906 (all 0) continue to serve the Pennine fringes.
In Lancashire, the Pendle Witch Hopper (0) continues to run daily in summer using a different route on Sundays.
Cumbria: Of the routes we mentioned in Newsletter 119, the X33 (Ambleside-Ravenglass, --) doesn't appear to have been reintroduced, the 106 (Kendal-Penrith, -) and 564 (Kendal-Brough, -) have seen massive cuts, and the AD122 Roman Wall bus (-) no longer enters Cumbria. For the 352 see below. The other routes 73 (Carlisle-Caldbeck-Keswick, 0), 77 (Keswick-Buttermere, 0), 111 (Penrith-Shap-Burnbanks, 0) -- to which can be added the rest of the extensive network provided by the Fellrunner Community Bus -- 508 (Penrith-Windermere, 0), 516 (Ambleside-Dungeon Ghyll, 0), 525 (Windermere Ferry-Hawkshead-Wray, 0), 572 (Kirkby Stephen-Teesdale/Barnard Castle, 0) and 888 (Newcastle-Keswick, 0) have survived -- for a timetable for the last visit the Experience Northumberland website as below. We have no information on the South Lakes Freerider (?).
There are three notable east-west bus routes between the A69 and A684 corridors. They are the Sun only 100 (+) between Crook and Alston, which this year has a longer season; the B66 (-) between Newcastle and Blackpool, which runs Fri, Sun and Mon and replaces the former 352, but with no stops between Garstang and Tebay; and the 888 (0). Its timetable is on the Durham CC website. One can use all three in a day by staring at 09.15 from Durham on route 46 and changing at Crook and Alston to reach Langwathby on route 888. From there one takes a train to Kirkby Stephen and can get back to Durham on the B66; it is also possible to take the train through to Ribblehead and get Dalesbus 830 back from there to Darlington and Middlesbrough. The loss of the Lancaster stop on the B66 means that a day tripper can't get as far as the Lake District without returning all the way to Newcastle on the 888; nor is it possible to get further than Patterdale if changing at Penrith onto the 508. Remember to check dates carefully if using any of these options.
Northumberland: The Spirit Bus (0) continues to provide access to the countryside around Rothbury, and the other routes in the Northumberland Coastal area (X18/418 and the 477 serving Lindisfarne, all 0) continue to run. For full details of these and other interesting routes visit the Experience Northumberland website except for the Spirit Bus network where only route 15 is shown -- the operator's site also has timetables of the 14 and 16-18.
Incidentally, English concessionary passes are valid on most buses from Berwick to Eyemouth, Kelso, Duns and Galashiels. The last will be useful to people who wish to have a ride on the Borders Railway when it reopens this autumn.
Scotland: Stagecoach will be resuming buses to the Linn of Dee (200, -) and on the highest bus route in the country between Ballater and Blairgowrie (501, 0) but not, apparently, to Glen Muick formerly served by the 200. Also lost is the Loch Leven circular 203 (--), but the Ring of Breadalbane Explorer RO1/2 (0) is being reintroduced. Also of interest in this area is the local service to Fortingall (91/891, 0), which is well known for its 5000 year old yew tree and also has many other features of interest.
In summary, though options have been narrowing for most of this century and are now doing so faster than ever, there is still plenty of opportunity to plan interesting trips on our public transport network to explore Britain's heritage.
Because of the temporary closure of the copying shop we normally use (Staples at Mitcham's Corner), delivery of paper copies of this newsletter has been delayed. If anyone not in receipt of the electronic copies would have liked to attend the climate lobby or the anti-austerity march (and hadn't been made aware of these events through other channels), we apologise. There should, however, still be time to attend the Bedford Area Bus Users Society AGM on Sat 4 July, at which Claire Walters, the Chief Executive of Bus Users UK (to which we are affiliated), will be speaking.
We have taken advantage of this delay to add some recent news (or items that have only recently come to our attention) -- see below.
About 10 people assembled at the designated meeting point (EAT at 85 King William St, between Bank and Monument stations) and took the "Save Our Buses/Stop Cutting Buses" placards supplied by the Campaign for Better Transport. They also had a banner. Several other people expressed interest in our campaign and took further placards for use on the march -- which was a start, though nowhere near enough to give the issue of buses the prominence it deserves.
One campaigner from Fleet in Hampshire brought a cutout bus in the livery of what had been her local operator, Fleet Buzz, until it was taken over by Stagecoach.
We then took our place in the march, arriving at Parliament Square about 15.20. As we weren't at the front, by then the speeches had started, but they continued for over another hour, as more marchers arrived, ending about 16.40.
An estimated 250,000 people participated. No violence or arrests were reported. Speakers included politicians (Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn et al), showbiz personalities (Charlotte Church, Julie Hesmondhalgh et al) and trade unionists (Frances O'Grady, Christine Blower et al).
We need to work to get speakers at future rallies to highlight the importance of buses. Is there any other issue where current policy is taking us backward on so many fronts (social exclusion, climate change, local environment and economic efficiency)?
The Whippet changes will start on 26 July, and include the takeover of 45 and 63 from Stagecoach, who are also making some other changes. Here are details.
St Neots town services: Currently a mixture of Stagecoach (63, 64, 75) and Whippet (61, 63) these will be replaced by Whippet 61, 62 and 63 plus an extension of Stagecoach 66 to Eaton Socon. The 61-63 will provide a half hourly off peak service between Eynesbury, St Neots and Eaton Socon, plus some peak journeys that loop via the bypass. The 61 will also serve the station, but not at times suitable for London and other commuters. Loves Farm will be served only by the X5, and on Saturdays Eynesbury (including Tesco) will only have a few rural buses.
Huntingdon/St Ives local services: The 45 commuter rail link from St Ives will be taken over by Whippet, but with the loss of 1 journey in each direction. Whippet 7 will be renumbered 477, and with the 476 will provide a half hourly service to Godmanchester (down from every 20min at present). Stagecoach will continue to provide Godmanchester's evening service by extending guided buses from Huntingdon. In St Ives there are minor changes to Whippet 12. Whippet 5 will provide an hourly service between St Ives and the Hemingfords -- which will lose their link to Huntingdon.
Guided buses: Changes to all routes of both operators. Whippet are abandoning route D which provides a few journeys linking Orchard Park and the Shirehall with Cambridge station (but Stagecoach 8 and Whippet 1A provide all day alternatives). Some peak time Stagecoach A's will extend to Huntingdon missing out Oxmoor, though the westbound morning journeys will leave too early to be usable by people from Cambridge. (Incidentally, an earlier change means that there is now an 06.45 journey from Cambridge to Peterborough Mon-Fri.)
Other services on Cambridge-St Ives/Huntingdon corridor: Whippet will provide the fastest journeys between Cambridge and Huntingdon on their hourly new X3 route via West Cambridge, Cambourne, Papworth and Godmanchester. Whippet 3 will provide peak time journeys to Hilton plus the supported Saturday service to the Graveley loop (which also serve Hilton). Whippet 1 will provide 5-7 journeys between Cambourne, Papworth, Hilton and St Ives, with peak time extension to/from Cambridge, but most journeys will not serve Fenstanton. Whippet 1A provides an hourly service between Cambridge and Huntingdon via Fenstanton, St Ives, Houghton and RAF Wyton, down from half hourly on the combined 1A/1B/5, and the original plan to supplement these with journeys between Fenstanton and St Ives on route 1 has been abandoned, probably because of public demand for extending this route from Papworth to Cambourne. However the 1A is extended to Cambridge station.
Whippet rural routes: Minor changes to 2 and 8. 6 will provide a Mon-Fri shopping service from Fenstanton, Hilton, Papworth and Cambourne to St Neots, but will run nonstop on the A428 not serving Eltisley or Croxton. 9 increased from 2 to 5 days a week from Elsworth and other local villages to St Ives. 15 will lose its peak time locals between Fen Drayton and Fenstanton but the Monday and Friday shopping service from Over survives. 31 is recast to offer 4 off peak journeys between Fowlmere and Addenbrookes, where passengers will have to change to/from Cambridge. The peak time journeys between Cambridge and Barley will continue. We regard this as a significant improvement, however Trumpington will no longer be served. Less good news is the change to 75, with most journeys now terminating at Orwell. Passengers for villages beyond, including visitors to Wimpole Hall, do however have alternatives -- Myalls 15 from Royston (Wed) and C2 from St Neots (Thur), peak time journeys on route 28 from Comberton to Gamlingay (to get back to Cambridge alight at Caxton and walk to Lower Cambourne for a Citi 4), and the Bike Bus Explorer on Sundays. Finally, no changes at present to the West Hunts network (400-9).
An additional service for visitors is the 196 Tor Bus at Glastonbury, running daily during the summer season between the town centre and the Tor. The town centre can be reached daily from Bristol (bus or rail stations) on route 376 -- there are also various services from other towns in the area.
Herts County Council is currently onsulting on a rail strategy. The closing date is 4 August.
The strategy includes noises about improving sustainable access to stations and providing a high quality east-west coach service which are quite contrary to the Council's actions in cutting services, as referred to earlier. This type of inconsistency is not untypical of strategy documents and casts grave doubt on their their value. It may be worth mentioning this point in your response.
The strategy comes down clearly on the side of an east-west rail route via Luton and Stevenage. This option looks highly circuitous and the countryside between Luton and Stevenage looks unsuitable for a new rail route, so we suggest asking for this to be replaced by "East-West 2" between Milton Keynes and Stansted Airport via Ridgmont, Flitwick, Hitchin, Stevenage, Ware and Harlow, with possible eastward extension to Braintree and beyond. (We see this as supplementing rather than replacing East-West 1 between Oxford, Bicester, Claydon, Milton Keynes, Bedford, St Neots and Cambridge.) The Hertford Link element in East-West 2, in combination with upgrading the West Anglia main line, could bring considerable benefits to Cambridgeshire by creating a new strategic freight route between the Channel Tunnel (and some south-eastern ports) and eastern England via Barking, Seven Sisters, Ware and Stevenage.
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