Local people attempting to shake up local politics
Isn’t it extraordinary that it took a research project to tell us what should be obvious to anyone with a brain: “… the scramble to build new homes is producing houses next to bypasses and link roads which are too far out of town to walk or cycle, and which lack good local buses.” [BBC News – Young couples ‘trapped in car dependency]
“You spend hours in traffic ferrying yourself and your children around because your estate has no shops; no pub; no doctor; no school; no jobs.”
It’s bad enough that existing rural communities have been increasingly isolated thanks to the closure of sub-post offices and the elimination of bus services, but it is entirely irresponsible for planners to perpetuate this problem by ensuring a reliance on the motor car in new estates. Apart from the undesirability of increased pollution and demand on diminishing natural resources, there is discrimination against those who cannot afford a car, against those who cannot hold a driving licence (perhaps through infirmity or old age), and, depressingly, against those who do not wish to use the motor car on principle.
Ely is in danger of following the model above. The High Barns–Kings Avenue area in Ely is essentially a group of cul-de-sacs with no pedestrian or cycle shortcuts linking them or providing access to the principal routes. Many years ago, Ely Cycling Campaign made the point that simple foot/cycle bridges across some of the small waterways dividing the area would improve accessibility, but nothing has been done.
Bus services outside of high-population areas are generally woeful in the UK and expensive. The first question any developer should be asking is: Where do we put the bus stop? And the first questions a potential resident should ask are: Where are the bus stops? How many routes are covered? How often do the services run? How cheap is it? What time is the first bus of the day? What time is the last bus of the day?
Here is the reality of public transport for those trying to get to Ely’s main surgery / hospital from the centre of the city or farther south. Bear in mind that, even if you had a car, you might not be well enough to drive on the occasion you wanted to get to the medical centre. The first arrival is at 9.22. The surgery actually opens at 8.30.
The service from Littleport is better but still inadequate.
Regardless of any ideological objections, it is obvious that privatised bus services do not work, especially in rural areas, as the contractors cut services if they do not make enough money, and the public, feeling they cannot rely on the services, do not use them as they would want to. And so the services get cut again, and we have a vicious cycle. The no. 9 service from Cambridge to Ely was hourly at one time (maybe even every 30 minutes before that). How long before it is taken out of service altogether?