Major transport companies and Mayor of Cambridgeshire work with college community to improve bus services.

In efforts to address transport challenges in Cambridgeshire, Long Road Sixth Form College hosted a Cambridgeshire Buses Feedback forum on Tuesday 5th of March. The event brought together key members of the transport sector including David and Steve from Stagecoach, Anton and Dean from Stephensons, and Ed from Whippet, who all attended with the aim of working towards a more positive future with Long Road students, staff, and parents. In addition, Mayor Dr Nik Johnson attended to talk about future public transport plans from the perspective of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The event began with talks from the bus representatives about their companies’ new ideas and initiatives as well as apologies for the inconvenience caused by their services. After these talks, Leia Martin-Watson, Isobel Rondeau, and Eleanor Groves (three Long Road students) provided the room with feedback and findings from a college-wide student survey with over 140 responses. They found students travel from over 35 surrounding towns and villages, with 53.5% of respondents using public transport every day. Standing as representatives for the student body, Leia, Isobel, and Eleanor used personal experiences and various statistics to communicate their thoughts and feelings about bus services across the county. Student suggestions included changing bus routes in order to cut down travel time, as they found 52.6% of students spend over an hour on the bus in order to get to college. Another suggestion was to create a joint bus pass between companies in order to cut costs, as 8% of students that answered the survey said the main disadvantage of the bus was that it is too expensive. These suggestions were supported by the bus company representatives and mayor as they acknowledged the challenges Long Road students have faced. However, they also highlighted these types of projects are long-term and change cannot be resolved overnight.

After the student’s feedback, we had a short refreshment break, giving the bus representatives time to talk individually to attendees. We returned with a talk from Mayor Dr Nik Johnson in which he passionately spoke about public transport and his aims to franchise the bus companies in order to bring costs down for customers. The floor was then opened for questions to anyone in the audience. These questions sparked engaging conversations such as the possibility to add bike racks to buses, how utilities need to communicate better with the bus companies to prevent delays and cancellations, and routes of buses. At the end of the evening, we collected feedback sheets in which the visitors took the opportunity to highlight frustrations and raise additional questions, as well as complimenting the Long Road students and their efforts to make a socially impactful event.

 Many positive and productive conversations were had at this event with all parties leaving hopeful. In the future, we hope for more of these events, so this conversation continues. This will allow for improvements all over Cambridgeshire and, hopefully, this is the beginning of a positive relationship between those who have the power to change and those who want to see change. The bus representatives have agreed to meet regularly with staff and students at Long Road Sixth Form College in order to stay in touch with the opinion of their valued customers. The students feel confident about the future of Cambridgeshire Buses as they have started the negotiations in order to bring about positive social change.