There are calls for a new 'peoples bus service' in Cambridge as prospective councillors look for ways to make public transport more reliable for people commuting in the city.
Labour candidate Dan Greef has said he wants to see a 'peoples public bus service' in Cambridge that could rival other bus operators and improve the public transport in Cambridge.
He told a hustings in Queen Ediths ward, a council-run bus franchise could improve bus provision in the city by introducing more competition and covering routes that are under-served.
Conservative candidate Manas Deb said he would like to see private companies like AstraZeneca contribute to the cost of public transport in the city.
Lib Dem candidate Colin McGerty and Green candidate Joel Chalfen picked up on the environmental benefits of getting more people onto buses (particularly electric ones) and getting cars out of the city centre.
Mr McGerty said he is "impatient" and said the city council needed to crack on with creating a clean air zone in Cambridge with electric buses instead of petrol or diesel cars.
'The mayor has the power'
Cllr Rosy Moore, executive councillor for environmental services and city centre, said she supported the idea of bus franchising in Cambridge, and said the Combined Authority and its mayor James Palmer could make this a reality.
Cllr Moore said: “I totally support bus franchising. That is one of the mayors new powers.
“I think we need better and more reliable buses in Cambridge. We needed them before, and we need them now. And we need buses with lower emissions. It is something I support and I also wonder whether there are other things we can do to get people out of private cars.
“The mayor has the power and I would urge him to use that."
Cllr Moore said other things that could be tried in Cambridge include “communal taxi shares” where people could club together to take taxis in and out of the city centre.
In November 2017, a £150,000 review of bus services was commissioned by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. The review was set up to look at the reliability of bus services in Cambridgeshire, with a particular emphasis on services and reliability in rural areas.
'We need improvement now'
Leader of Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert, who sits on the board of the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), said there needed to be better public transport in Cambridge. He said, in the long term, projects like the metro would help make public transport more reliable in Cambridge.
He noted, however, that there needed to be an interim step to address congestion problems in the first instance.
Cllr Herbert said: “The mayor has a bus review and, after the election, we have to look at the implications for Cambridge. We need an improvement of the services we have now.
“This is linked to tackling congestion and there are long-term ambitions for the metro. There is unfinished business in terms of improving the bus service and how it operates and also making it more competitive for people. We need a high quality bus option.”
Cllr Herbert noted that the city council had neither the budget or the expertise to run its own bus franchise, but said other government bodies could help.
“The city council doesnt have sufficient expertise to run a bus company,” said Cllr Herbert. “But having competition in Cambridge is important. The bus review will be expected to look at this. It is a tough job running a bus company. We need short and medium term solutions to improve transport in Cambridge.”
James Palmer was contacted for comment.