A few days ago, users of the East Cambs Connect minibus service were told of immediate and significant reductions to the previous arrangements.
- Instead of operating 7:00AM to 7:00PM Monday to Friday, hours are reduced to 9:30AM to 4:00PM.
- Instead of serving multiple destinations across East Cambridgeshire, journeys will only be booked to Ely and back.
- Bookings are now being managed by ESACT instead of by the county council.
- All passengers will have to be dial-a-ride members (criteria here). If you wish to join ESACT and use their Dial-a-Ride service you will need to call 01353 661161 and request a Membership Application Pack.
The background to the changes is complex. A long-running investigation into community transport in Cambridgeshire (including ESACT) resulted in a number of contracts, East Cambs Connect among them, being re-tendered. No bids meeting the criteria were received for the full East Cambs Connect service. Limited alternatives have therefore been put in place for part of the service.
Mayor Palmer’s Combined Authority, not the county council, is now responsible for bus subsidies. The Combined Authority agreed to put in some additional funding for six months to slightly improve the new limited offer, but this was decided very late, with the result that users were given very little notice of the changes.
The booking line has transferred to ESACT, but the old booking line will remain open for two weeks during the handover period.
Specific dedicated transport has been put in place for people travelling to day centres. In the south of the district, the dial-a-ride service continues to be provided by the Voluntary Network from Newmarket.
The new arrangements will be trialled for six months, and usage monitored before the service is re-tendered towards the end of the year. It is hard to see what will change between now and then to trigger an improvement in services for East Cambridgeshire residents.