UPDATED: Combined Authority Board approves outcomes of tendering process for withdrawn bus services
We incorrectly advised in the below post that the standstill period as part of the bus tendering process meant the names of operators and timetables could not be made public until October 24. In fact, October 24 is the last day of the standstill period and means we can only make those details public from October 25, which we will do on this news feed. The below news post has been corrected. We apologise for any confusion.
Approval has been given for new contracts with bus operators to run services on almost all of the routes which Stagecoach East announced would be withdrawn from October 30.
The decision was made by the Combined Authority Board on Wednesday (October 19). On September 20, Stagecoach East announced they were pulling out of 18 services completely and reducing a further 5 significantly. The Combined Authority went out to urgent tender with potential operators the following day with the aim of continuing as many of those services as possible.
The current position is that 17 of the 18 services cut by Stagecoach, along with all of the five reduced services, have all received quotes from new operators. The remaining route, service 39, has been covered apart from the section between Chatteris and March. However, the Combined Authority continues to be in discussions with operators about covering this service.
For legal reasons around the tendering process, the Combined Authority is not yet able to confirm which bus operators are the preferred bidder for each route and nor is it able to confirm the route timetables. Operators and new timetables will be confirmed at the end of what is called a standstill period lasting 10 days. This is a legal requirement attached to this tendering process which allows suppliers an opportunity to challenge any decision. That means the names of the bus operators and timetables can only be made public from October 25. Timetables may change as a result of the tendering process. New contracts with bus operators will run until the end of March 2023.
The routes which have received tenders from bus operators are:
Citi4 along St Neots Road and within Cambourne
5A (Citi5 beyond Northstowe),
8A (Citi8 beyond Cottenham)
9A Ely City Service
33 March Town Service
The Combined Authority will publish updates about this process on its website news page and via social media on Twitter and Facebook: https://cambridgeshirepeterborough-ca.gov.uk/news/
The routes will require some of the £1.7m set aside by the Combined Authority for subsidies to operators to keep them running. The current position is that the total cost is expected to be about £1.25m. The tender process has shown that the money made available by the Combined Authority is very likely to be enough to cover all the routes, where there are operators with the capacity to run them.
The report to the Board includes a wider update on the Combined Authority’s Bus Strategy work, which is the plan to invest in better buses across the region, which connect more people and places, and serve as an attractive alternative to the car.
Part of the Bus Strategy work involves the Combined Authority exploring more options for funding this new network, including further approaches to Government to make the case for additional resources. This also includes options for funding to keep any services going beyond the end of March 2023.
The Bus Strategy is due to be presented in draft form to the Transport and Infrastructure Committee in November. Alongside the bus strategy will be a new Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to be submitted to Government before the end of November. The objective of both is to set out a clear vision and direction, and a powerful case for investment in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough bus system.
Work to develop further the business case for bus franchising also forms part of this wider strategy.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said: “This whole situation has been very worrying for communities and the Combined Authority has, rightly, worked with urgency on this tendering process to get buses running on those former Stagecoach routes after October 30.
“What is positive is that we have received tenders from operators for all but part of one of those routes – which is a section of the 39 service from Chatteris to March. The Combined Authority’s work is ongoing in trying to find an operator in this case.
“I’m acutely aware that people will want to see the timetables so they can plan their journeys. In any tendering process, we must make sure it is run in a legally sound way. That does unfortunately mean those timetables won’t be available until Tuesday (October 25), but that information will be shared as soon as possible.
“Looking beyond these immediate challenges, the whole bus system in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough needs bold change because it clearly isn’t working. There are many challenges ahead, but work on a better future is being done by the Combined Authority as a priority.”
To read the report to the Board visit the below link, scrolling down to Additional Meeting Documents. https://cambridgeshirepeterboroughcagov.cmis.uk.com/Meetings/tabid/70/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/397/Meeting/2117/Committee/63/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx
This news post was updated on 21 October to reflect that timetables and bus operator names can only be made public from October 25 and not October 24 as previously stated.