Catching the 7A bus
In August a very well attended meeting at the United Reformed Church in Whittlesford assessed the need for bus services in the village, in response to the decision by the bus operator Whippet to withdraw the 7A. I gave an assurance that the county council would step in, and they did, and found a new small bus company, A2B, to maintain the service and the existing route.
Last week Whittlesford, Sawston, Hinxton and Pampisford parish councils met with the county and district councils, again in Whittlesford. This was to see whether the existing service (timetable and route) could be changed to improve usage. The county council is keen to try to do this because this route is one of the most heavily subsidized and has very few passengers. This I know from talking to Peter the new bus driver at 8.00 am at Heathfield one morning when there was not a single person on the bus.
The discussions last week drew on the ideas put forward at the August public meeting, and also took in the views of some local organisations, such as the Imperial War Museum, who want to support bus travel by visitors. The County Council has gone away to work out what the new route options would mean in terms of timetabling and will be consulting formally. All the parish councils agreed they would call public meetings themselves so that bus users know what is being proposed. The main change is the destination: ie NOT ending up at the isolated Babraham park and ride, where the tumbleweed and dust blows across the prairie, but trying to make the hours more regular, making a better link to whittlesford station and cutting out unnecessary loops .were also proposed.
The strong push by its parish council for Whittlesford station to be a pilot rural travel hub under a scheme being managed by the District Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership means that there is the chance to work out how the station can be made more useful for local people, as well as the many commuters who drive from as far away as Linton. The aim is to work out locally what would help, with the benefit of input from some transport professionals. Bus connectivity, better bike facilities, car parking changes – all on the agenda, for the village to work up.
In 20 years’ time we will all be travelling in electric pods driven by robots. But for the moment we need to make what we have got work better. Only connect, as E M Forster wrote.