A proposed congestion charge for Cambridge would see motorists pay at least £5 to drive in and around the city between 0700 and 1900 on weekdays. The topic continues to divide opinion, and following a BBC Politics East debate last week, people have continued to get in touch to voice their views.
“Punishing the People in Town”
Web developer Richard Bagnall lives in Cambridge and says “there is no provision proposed for those already living in Cambridge”.
Those who live in the restricted traffic zone, he says, “will therefore be penalized for every journey they make by car, even if it is to leave the city”.
“It’s punishing people who live in the city,” he says.
The 61-year-old says: ‘I already use my car as little as possible, but I use it for shopping and getting out of town, which would mean I would be paying at least £1,040 a year on top of the £600 road fund.’ duty.”
He says ‘council continues to close streets’ such as the modal filter on Chapel Street in Chesterton, Cambridge.
Mr Bagnall says those closures “are doing something else [roads] more congested [and] that’s part of the problem.”
‘More funds for public transport’
Civil, structural and environmental engineering student Archie McCann says “the Sustainable Travel Zones plan is, overall, very good.”
“He makes sure [of using] the City Deal’s hundreds of millions of pounds of money to boost public transport, long before road charging arrives, and it also has dozens of proposed exemptions, e.g. for the disabled, for low-income people, etc.”
The 21-year-old says the plan is ‘the right way’ to improve public transport, which he currently describes as ‘horrible’.
She says, “I’ve tried to take the bus three times in the last week, and twice the bus just didn’t come, so I had to wait for the next one, and God forbid you try to use public transport out of town, you’re not going nowhere fast.”
McCann says he sees “no other way to fund them to improve bus services – the local government doesn’t have the funds and the UK government won’t help”.
It adds that the congestion charge “will allow for more funding for public transport, [which] it reduces congestion on the roads so those buses don’t get stuck in traffic.”
What is proposed?
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) – a body comprising three local councils, businesses and the University of Cambridge – has proposed what it calls a sustainable travel zone, covering most of the city.
Vehicles operating in the area between 07:00 and 19:00 on weekdays will be charged a daily rate of at least £5.
The money raised will be used to pay for the £50 million expansion of the bus network, with the aim of creating a “London-style” service, as well as improved walking and cycling infrastructure.
The GCP says the plans would lead to 20,000 more journeys made by bus and the number of car journeys in Cambridge reduced by 50%.
They say the program will “reduce pollution to provide cleaner air.”
‘The Wrong Approach’
Dragana Hardman, a former NHS worker, says: ‘Public transport in Cambridge is really bad with many lines down.
“Many of the NHS, catering and hospitality staff and [those with] other jobs that don’t pay as well, live outside Cambridge and travel to work.
“The current park and ride system is not good; the service is bad and needs improvement.
“I understand that Cambridge City Council would like to make changes and improvements, however this is the wrong approach.”
The 60-year-old says the congestion charge “will punish people for either living in Cambridge and working outside, or living outside and working in Cambridge”.
He says cycling infrastructure and bus services need to be improved before residents are “driven” to use them.
“This proposal is only there for the money, [it is] nothing to do with Cambridge improving,” he adds.
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