Winners and losers in bus timetable shake up

There are some significant changes to bus services serving Biggleswade and the surrounding villages from the 31st August. These will impact current users, as well as those who would use public transport, but are currently prevented from doing so by the significant cuts to services across the region over the last decade.

Although bus travel suffers from a poor image compared to rail travel, the number of bus journeys per year, 4 billion in 2019, vastly exceeds the number of journeys by rail,1.74 billion, in the same year. It is also a vital form of transport for lower income groups and older people who don’t have access to a car. Frequent bus services, which go where people need to go, are crucial for people in rural areas to access work, help reduce loneliness in cut-off rural areas and will enable a shift away from the car, essential to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the worst impacts of climate change.

I’m pleased to say there are some welcome improvements to a number of services, although it seems that some villages will miss out and actually face later first buses and earlier last buses. Looking through bus timetables can be laborious, so I have just highlighted the main changes below. All errors are mine and come with the usual disclaimers! For those who want to take a more in-depth look at the timetables I provide links at the bottom of this post. Do get in touch if you have any suggestions for route or service improvements.


First Services

Potton

  • The first service, a new 72 route, from Potton to Sandy starting 31st August will be at 06.06 (this is currently at 07.25)
  • The first service, again the 72, from Potton to Biggleswade, will be the 07.12 (this is currently 08.26)

Gamlingay

  • The 1st service from Gamlingay to Sandy will now be at 08.52, a much later start than the current 07.33
  • The 1st service from Gamlingay to Biggleswade will be earlier, 07.44 rather than the current 08.18 and this will benefit Dunton with an earlier first service of 08.12, compared to the current 08.44.

Blunham

  • The first bus through Blunham will be 10.36, which is later than the current 10.12 service.

Biggleswade Town Service 85/85a

The 85 and 85a routes will have a similar level of service although the last 85a has been cut, and this is in additional to significant cuts to this service that have taken place in the last couple of years. This service used to have a start time of 06.00 in the morning and would run beyond 20.00.

Last Services

Sandy to Potton

  • The last service from Sandy to Potton will now be at 20.46 on the new 72 route, which is a great improvement on the previous 17.47. The last service from Sandy to Gamlingay will remain at 17.47 from the train station.

Biggleswade to Potton

  • The last service from Biggleswade to Potton will now be at 18.20, which is an improvement on the current 17.32.

Biggleswade to Gamlingay

  • The time of the last service remains unchanged at 17.32 departure from Biggleswade.

Another benefit of the upcoming timetable changes is that there will be a direct service from Potton to Bedford via the new 72 route mentioned above. Overall, with some disappointing exceptions there is a significant improvement to services. However, looking at timetables from just two years ago, even with the upcoming changes some villages in our area will still have a poorer service. In 2019 the first bus from Potton to Sandy left at 05.40, the first bus from Gamlingay to Sandy left at 06.13 and Blunham village had a 08.12 service.

However, to encourage a modal shift away from the car, bus services will need to be affordable, reliable and frequent. We certainly aren’t there yet! Is the bus an option for you? If you never travel by bus would you consider using it one day a week? What needs to change to get people out of their cars? Do get in touch at: bedsptransportwatch@gmail.com

Links to new Timetables and more info

New 72/73 service Bedford/Sandy/Potton/Biggleswade from 31st August: https://tiscon-maps-stagecoachbus.s3.amazonaws.com/Timetables/East/BEDFORD/BE%20-%20ROUTE%2072%2B73%20-%20AUG%2021.pdf

New 188/190 timetable from 31st August Biggleswade/Dunton/Potton/Gamlingay/Sandy: https://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/directory_record/72634/centrebus_services_188_and_190

New Biggleswade ‘town service’ 85/85a from 16th August: https://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/directory_record/72705/centrebus_services_85_and_85a

‘Bus Back Better’ the government’s national bus strategy: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/980227/DfT-Bus-Back-Better-national-bus-strategy-for-England.pdf

Department for Transport Annual Bus Statistics published October 2020: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/929992/annual-bus-statistics-year-ending-march-2020.pdf

Julian Vaughan

21st August 2021

Twitter: @juliman66

5 thoughts on “Winners and losers in bus timetable shake up

  1. Yes, all very well for villages mentioned but what about Langford village only 10 mins out of Biggleswade with a pretty poor bus service that’s lead us a merry dance since it took over a centrbus route through the village Langford is never considered in any ‘improvements’ and yet is only walking distance from biggleswade (to the fit and able)
    I cant understand the logic of providing *3* bus services to Henlow Village(5mins away)and not extend them to Langford! So in truth Langford IS a loser and never has been anything else and us bus users are forgotten

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    1. Hi Margaret, I’ve lived in Langford for the last 15 years so know exactly what you mean. This blog concentrated on the villages to the East and North East of Biggleswade as they will be impacted by the upcoming timetable changes. I fully agree that the service to and from Langford is not fit for purpose and is priced at a level which won’t encourage people out of their cars. There is still a long way to go!

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  2. JulianVaughan
    With respect the majority of councillors,and officials who organise bus routes have never had to rely on a bus ever and rely on a car for their way of life..
    Everyone concentrates on getting to Bedford their is a world the other side of biggleswade!
    Henlow/ Stotfold/Arlesey/
    4years ago we had services to these villages but they cut them out.

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    1. Hi Margaret. I’m not a councillor or an official, but I am an occasional user of the buses to and from Langford, and would use them a lot more if they were suitable for my commute. I will continue to press those that ARE in power to improve services for villages across Bedfordshire.

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  3. Credit where it is due to Central Beds Council on this. The early termination of the contract by Centrebus has enabled them to make these improvements.
    The new 188/190 also provides new direct links between the villages and the Biggleswade Retail Park, gives Cockayne Hatley a regular bus service and provides more journeys through Everton.

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