Cambridge Travel Debate

17:47 Wednesday 7th September 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY HARPER: Let’s just talk about an issue that was raised this morning on our Cambridgeshire Breakfast Show. It was all about how people get to work across Cambridgeshire, and the debate over the Guided Bus. Because the Guided Bus is now a month into full service. After Cambridgeshire Breakfast, Andy Harper was joined in the studio by a panel of local people with a knowledge of Cambridgeshire’s transport issues, to discuss what needs to be done now, and in the future, so the county can cope with further growth on our roads, and avoid gridlock. Mark Rix, who runs a cleaning company and has to drive around Cambridge every day, feels the Guided Bus has made a bit of a difference, but wants more to be done to ease congestion. (TAPE)
MARK RIX: I have an employee who lives in St. Ives. It’s just halved her journey time to Cambridge. She did say it’s a little bit unreliable as in the bus times aren’t quite right, and that maybe needs addressing. But certainly, within the city boundaries, which is where my main concern is, nothing seems to change. It just gets harder and harder, and no-one wants to do anything about it. (LIVE)
ANDY HARPER: Independent county councillor Nichola Harrison set up a website earlier this year, looking at local solutions to congestion, which don’t involve central government investment, such as road pricing. (TAPE)
NICHOLA HARRISON: This is about us coming together as a community and being brave about the solutions, and being ambitious, ane feeling, as I said earlier, that this isn’t something we just have to live with. One way or another, we will have to pay. We could pay through more central government taxes, if central government was willing to raise them and spend them in Cambridgeshire. But they’re not. I think we need to take control locally, and I think we can develop a fantastic scheme whereby each individual would gain much much more than they pay out. And that’s the message I want to get over. Whether you are a driver, or a bus user, or a cyclist, or a lorry driver, you could gain much more than you would have to pay out. (LIVE)
ANDY HARPER: But John Bridge, from the Peterborough and Cambridge Chambers of Commerce warned bringing in a local scheme could put businesses in the city at a disadvantage. (TAPE)
JOHN BRIDGE: Certainly businesses don’t want to be in a position where they feel they’re being penalised unfairly in a location. There is concern that putting in a localised scheme will actually make it more difficult for businesses, and other businesses will look to go elsewhere, where they don’t have that particular situation. And I have to say my Peterborough Chamber of Commerce says, please put road pricing into Cambridge as quickly as you can, because we’d love that, thank you very much, because we believe we could get real commercial advantage. So there are lots of problems and difficulties. And we have to understand the dynamics of it. But the whole issue is about how we deal with it. What we need is a proper integrated scheme across the board. (LIVE)
ANDY HARPER: ~There was also agreement that more investment in rail was needed. Conservatice county councillor Shona Johnstone, viewed by many as the architect of the Guided Busway, believes a new station at Chesteron is vital for Cambridgeshire’s future. (TAPE)
SHONA JOHNSTONE: Rail is vital for this county. If we look at Chesteron station, for example, the business case for that is a no-brainer. We need to do it. 80% of traffic coming into Cambridge Station comes from the North. If we can get a station at Chesteron, that traffic doesn’t need to come into Cambridge. It would make a huge difference to Cambridge residents, and to congestion, in and around Cambridge Station. And it would enable people to get a bus through to the station, and have a properly integrated transport system from A to B.