Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has called for major bus reform after local bus operator Whippet announced that it will be discontinuing their Busway Service C and X3 service from 10th November 2018. The changes to the services will leave Stagecoach as the only operator on the Busway between St Ives and Cambridge and little service in Papworth Everard.
Daniel Zeichner said: “This latest withdrawal of services shows that the current free market system for buses just doesn’t work. Frequently over-crowded Stagecoach buses are currently interspersed with under-used Whippets, with passengers crying out for tickets that could be used on both. Under current competition law that isn’t possible. Now Whippet are making a rational economic decision to end a loss-making service, leaving Stagecoach as a monopoly operator.
“Today, in the House of Commons, I urged the Buses Minister to introduce a National Bus Strategy as soon as possible, as one of the leading national operators called for last week. The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor now has powers to introduce a franchising system which could resolve the problem, but 18 months after the legislation came into law, he has only just started an initial review.”
Local transport powers were transferred to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor through the Devolution Deal in 2017. Mayor Palmer is currently undertaking the bus service review of the county, with findings expected to be released later in the year.
Daniel Zeichner, was heavily involved in taking through the 2017 Bus Servicers Act through Parliament for the Labour Party as the then Shadow Transport Minister. Since becoming an MP he has taken a particular interest in the bus system and the experiences of bus-users. Last summer, Mr Zeichner long argued that bus users were under represented in and around Cambridge and it led him to hold the first Bus Users Forum in Cambridge. This event paved the way for the Cambridge Area Bus Users group. Mr Zeichner addressed their annual meeting in Cambridge last Saturday, highlighting issues facing bus users and the bus industry.