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Call for upgrade of bus services to ‘let down’ villages surrounding Newmarket

A campaign for a better bus service for villagers living between Newmarket and Cambridge has been launched by local Labour party members who claim people living in rural areas have been ‘let down and left behind for too long’.

The number 11 Stagecoach service, which operates the route serving Quy, Bottisham, Lode, the Swaffhams, Reach, Burwell and Exning, comes in for particular criticism.

Although it runs an hourly service on weekdays, not every bus stops in all villages and the last buses leave from Cambridge at 7.15pm and from Newmarket at 6.35pm. There are no buses at all on the route on a Sunday.

Stagecoach Bus (19998301)
Stagecoach Bus (19998301)

A statement from the South-East Cambridgeshire branch of the Labour party says: “Rural services such as the number 11 should run until late evening and throughout the weekends so people can get around our community.

“It is currently impossible for students returning late from college and for people working outside standard office hours, such as those employed in the National Health Service or social care, to travel by bus.

Burwell-based Jane Goodland, the local Labour transport and environment spokesman, has been holding drop-in sessions for villagers in Burwell and the surrounding villages to have their say.

“We have asked them to tell us what they believe the problems are and what kind of transport system they want and need,” said Mrs Goodland.

“We will then use these ideas to campaign and lobby Stagecoach, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Combined Authority until we get a service which is fit for purpose.”

A spokesman for Stagecoach East said: “We are always looking at ways to refine the network based on customer demand and needs. Weekend and evening services are part of that. It is complex as we have a wide range of services in operation and many communities we serve.

“We will take on board the issues raised with this particular service as part of our wider review, but would stress that there are no current plans to make changes to this route.”

Combined Authority Mayor James Palmer said: “The Combined Authority is currently working on a business case assessment of options for radical reform of the system, which could include introducing bus franchising, to deliver the changes needed. Getting buses to better connect people with jobs and services, including in rural villages, is a key part of that.

“In the meantime, we are working with bus operators to improve the existing network.”