Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

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Cam Vale Bus User Group

This group was set up in April 2017.  We have now joined the Cambridge Area Bus Users Group

Draft minutes of our most recent meeting:


Cam Vale Bus User Group

The Limes Community Centre, Bassingbourn

23rd January 2019, 7:30PM

Draft Minutes

  1. Welcome and Apologies:

Present: Cllr Susan van de Ven (Chair), Heather Place, Pat Klein, Hazel Lord, Jean Hamdorff, Sue Chandler, Anne Cooper, Mike Hallett ,(Bassingbourn Parish Council) Elaine Douglass (Bassingbourn Parish Council Chair), Lee Ginger (Whaddon Parish Council Chair), David Wherrell (Royston and District Community Transport), Lisa Purliss (A2B), Luke Purliss, Linda Permaine, Denise Permaine, Hermione Edwards, Sue Edwards, Jacqueline Clark, Ann Mills, Jenny Wallis, Patrick Lines (Cambs County Council)

Apologies from: Brian Clifford, Richard Wood (Cambridge Area Bus Users Group)

Introduction by Cllr van de Ven who explained that the reason for the length of time between meetings, was because we have been waiting for the publication of the Mayor’s bus review. Cllr van de Ven went on to give her thanks to David Wherrell from Royston and District Community Transport for providing transport to the meeting for many of the bus users in attendance. Thanks were also given for Bassingbourn and Whaddon Parish councillors’ attendance.

  1. Minutes of the previous meeting: The minutes from the previous meeting were agreed.
  2. Feedback on recent 127 timetable changes:
  • Users of the 127 bus service from all areas represented tonight. The discussion on detail of timetable changes reflects the fact that there are very few options for our users.
  • Meldreth users (only one service per day into Royston): People felt that they have too long in Royston or at Tesco. Option of a meal or coffee to use up spare time is too expensive to do every time. Perhaps return to how it was before? ‘If you do all your shopping and don’t have any money left there is nothing else to do.’  Others in the meeting urged taking advantage of Royston Library.
  • Bassingbourn users: Opposite view as users felt they don’t have enough turnaround time, and therefore need to go in more frequently. The day and the routine have been disturbed.
  • Some people have stopped using the early bus to get to work, because they can’t get to Royston in time.
  • 10:00 service goes down Knutsford road so people don’t have to walk to shelter.
  • Early bus comes at 8:30 and you now hit more traffic, and never ever gets to Royston at 08:42 when it is supposed to.
  • Only four or five people on the early bus and that is worse than it was before. Traffic on 1198 road is worse than it was.
  • Lisa from A2B voiced that she thinks the traffic is the same either way.
  • Return used to be 2:20 and now 2:35, so now have to leave at 12:10 to have enough time to get to school and collect kids at 3:10. Minutes make a difference.
  • Goes Mon/Tue/Wed on 10:00 bus – enough to do Morrisons shop, class and market. Satisfied and wants to keep bus, so is happy to keep changes.
  • Two friends wanted to go to Cambridge but the Royston bus connection doesn’t work so well. Used train instead (but more expensive with separate ticketing).
  • Soon there will be an M&S food shop and an Aldi added soon – could the 127 stop there? A bus stop has been placed outside Aldi so it would just need 127 re-routing. Getting out again may be difficult. Aldi opening on 21st Local mini bus does connect to Aldi but it doesn’t always tie up to 127.
  • Fairly occasional user: quality and standard of bus that is used now is considerably better than it was a few years ago. Punctuality isn’t perfect but is much better than it used to be.
  • Guilden & Steeple Morden users: Timetable changes have had a big impact – journey to Royston much more circuitous: people using it less and it has 10 minutes less in Royston, and the one in the afternoon is 5 minutes later. A very minor change suggested: 10:00 instead of going all the way round, goes straight in to Royston. Then after Royston, runs as per old timetable, then goes to Meldreth and Melbourn. This would give half an hour less time which helps Meldreth user problem, and it gives 10 minutes back like it was before. 13:10 goes Melbourn first.
  • Cllr van de Ven notes that the priority at the moment is simply to keep a bus service; any desired tweaks to the service are important to log for future use.
  • Royston users: A2B say they are only picking up one or two people coming out from Royston – most passengers are South Cambs people making return journeys.
  1. Mayor’s bus review and funding of 127 service – discussion:
  • Review invited CVBUG to participate in the close consultation, which we did in association with the Cambridge Area Bus Users Group – of which CVBUG is a member.
  • Major structural changes won’t be until 2021 and money is needed in the interim to keep funding 127 and other subsidized services.
  • Report identifies that funding is needed but not where it will come from.
  • Report is work in progress but looks positive in terms of recognising plight of rural transport.
  • Could be new scope for Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) opening up more widely. Recognises that buses like 127 may still be a core bus service.
  • Recognises major problem of traffic congestion in buses keeping to time. Traffic is at its highest at autumn period and then tails off through to the summer. Friday is the best day for traffic.
  • Main destination for 127 is in Hertfordshire. Lack of coordinated funding across county borders.
  • Pressure is placed on community transport to fill the gap. Sector has insufficient capacity and ability for CT to operate in certain ways is under challenge by commercial sector. Most CT operators saying they aren’t interested in DRT until they know what they are allowed to do by Dept for Transport.
  • Fears that there will be a hub and spoke system or a central booking system for DRT which David Wherrell from RDCT says won’t work. Mayor’s plan is to make everyone’s form of transport connect to another – which will be completely impossible.
  • Continuing anxiety: ongoing battle year by year to maintain lifeline services against the odds.
  • Mayor’s Report recognises that level of subsidy will always be needed for rural routes.
  • Mayor can levy what he needs from CCC budget to control transport. Proposed CCC budget is published on 5th £2 million needed to subsidise all routes. Cllr van de Ven assumes 127 will be okay come April. Longer term money is needed for transformative public transport system.
  • Mayor’s report is welcomed as a document acknowledging the plight of rural transport. Local parish councillors should write to mayor and support 127 service and working with Hertfordshire. Report recognises CVBUG and the service users it represents. CVBUG should write to mayor and welcome the fact that report has been completed. It should also mention that Busway A connecting Royston to Melbourn, Addenbrooke’s Cambridge and St Ives is very valuable.
  1. A.O.B:
  • Mike Hallett provided an update on the requested Highways changes to North End Bassingbourn. It was explained that Parish Councils can bid for Local Highways Improvement funding and about 30% win funding each year. This year Bassingbourn Parish Council’s request was to modify the traffic island at the top of North End, allowing buses to turn. This would enable the restoration of the 127 route to restore service to the top of North End. It won’t be known until April if application successful. If the funding is granted, the changes would happen in the next 12 months. Cllr van de Ven passes the group’s collective thanks to Bassingbourn Parish Council for this work. Lisa from A2B clarifies that they are happy to restore this part for the service if these changes go ahead.
  • Royston bus (16) is benefiting from S106 funding.
  • Richard Wood from Cambridge Bus User Group reiterates invitations to get involved with this group.
  • The Busway A service is amazing, it’s faster to get to Addenbrooke’s on the bus than it is by car. Every hour and pretty reliable. Much easier than getting there by train which involves a lot of walking and doesn’t allow bus pass use. Price is also good compared to 2 hours parking at hospital. Massive improvement for our area.
  • Parking at Trumpington Park and Ride is now full and it is difficult to get there. Expansion of Park and Ride is underway.
  • Since York Way Royston cut through opened, traffic jams at Tesco have been alleviated.
  1. Update from RDCT:
  • RDCT have just had figures for 2018 in which they set new records of 12,500 journeys, 225,000 miles, which worked out as 60 journeys per day, Monday to Friday. Many people are still using Community Transport (CT) because they take you directly to your destination and back again. They also remain cheaper than a taxi. If the Department for Transport (DFT) forces them to get operator licences, all the minibuses will go, and they will only operate up to 7 seaters. This is due to the unrealistic cost of getting the licenses for RDCT and other CT groups. They will continue for now but won’t look at new minibus services for the moment.
  1. Suggestions for CVBUG going forward?
  • Cllr van de Ven asked if people were happy to carry on with the group in its present form. Unanimous agreement that current form is appropriate. Continue to meet a couple of times per year, when needed.  No one else wished to step up at this time to help run the group so Cllr van de Ven would continue.
  1. Date of next meeting: The next meeting will be in six months or if something significant happens that requires a meeting, then there will be one before. The next meeting will be held in Meldreth.

Meeting concludes at 8:45PM.