Homerton College’s Principal condemned the changeFranman247

Homerton students have created a petition to protest the University’s decision to divert the Uni4 bus service’s replacement away from the college.

The new service completely bypasses Hills Road, the location of Homerton College as well as the Education Faculty, in order to ‘avoid traffic’.

The petition claims that the University, which worked in partnership with Whippet for the new route, made no effort to consult either Homerton students or staff at the Education faculty.

While the new service, called ‘Universal’, will be the first frequent service to connect West Cambridge with Cambridge Railway Station and is due to provide a quicker service to and from Addenbrookes by the end of 2016, some students felt excluded by the move.

Petition founder Anna Mulry described the decision as “devastating”, noting that the alternative bus route is more expensive and does not go near the Sidgwick site, therefore making it harder for a large proportion of students to get to lectures and exams”.

According to a message sent to Homerton students by the College Principal Professor Geoffrey Ward, the nearest stop heading into the city centre is now half a mile away, on Brooklands Avenue.

Indeed, the petition notes that this is “a huge distance to travel in a wheelchair or with mobility difficulties” and calls the lack of compromise “extremely unfair”.

Professor Ward also says that the College was not consulted about the “unhelpful” decision, and said that he had written to the University in protest after the decision had been made.
“I believe this is a bad decision and one which I with others will continue to challenge”, he said, promising to work with the Homerton Students’ Union, the Faculty of Education, and the University’s Disability Resource Centre to “keep a spotlight” on the issue.

Ticket prices for the service remain at £1 per journey for University card holders, and Jess Cunningham, Travel Plan Manager for the University of Cambridge, promised “a much more reliable and accessible service”.

A University spokesperson said: “The new subsidised Universal bus service replaced the Uni4 in July 2016 after considerable work to appraise all options, and a long process of discussion at the relevant university committees. The University has supplied information to those on Hill’s Road affected by the change. This includes continuing to use the Universal bus service or using the other bus services which travel along Hill’s Road and have stops outside major locations like Homerton College.”

‘Universal’ service timeline

Friday 22nd July – the final day of the Stagecoach Uni4 bus service
Saturday 23rd July – the new Whippet Universal service launched directly linking to the railway station
November 2016 – new branded busses will be used on the route, travelling from the station to Addenbrooke’s and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus via the Guided Busway, cutting out Hills Road.
Early 2017 – a new stop will be available at the North West Cambridge Development