A review of Bus Station - Stagecoach Cambus by Anonymous written on Sunday 25th of September 2005
I arrived in Cambridge yesterday afternoon from London, half an hour late because our bus driver had forgotten to fill his tank with petrol and we passengers had to wait by the roadside for ages while he went off to refuel! My first task in Cambridge was to book a return ticket to London (I had a single ticket) and I was surprised and not pleased to be directed way off down the road to a travel shop, where they had a very "drop-dead-to-visitors" attitude. Surely there should be a ticket agency right next to where the buses leave for London (Bay No. 10)?
Next I was starving and wanted something quick to eat like a sandwich! Not a thing to be seen, only a dreadful derelict old shopping centre I walked through, near the travel agency! (Why are there no sandwiches etc on sale AT the bus station?) Then I tried to find the Visitors Information place. There were various pointers (signs) but difficult to follow and I had to ask the way twice and got lost and went in circles. I finally got there and it was shut! I suppose this is reasonable for latish Sat. afternoon but, with the number of visitors about (this is September and a peak period), surely there should be some place open to provide free maps and advice etc.? What if I had wanted a hotel, since I had arrived so comparatively late? I felt very lost.
I landed in a very nice restaurant, though quite far from the bus station (all the nearer places were full). All I wanted was something simple and quick to eat, and cheap. I had to order soup(cheapest thing on the menu), which took a while to come and was boiling hot, so delayed me, but it was delicious - if I had had the time to enjoy it, that is.
I did a very quick rush round Cambridge, though I had no map and cursed my bus driver when I just missed the King's College service at 5.30 p.m. I galloped back to the bus station for my 7 p.m. return to London (it was a rushed trip). Absolute chaos at the bus station; a huge horde wanting to board at Bay No. 10 and not enough room for all of us (several were left behind and none picked up en route, just abandoned at the side of the road). I was relieved to have a ticket as this gave me some legitimacy, and wondered what would have happened to me if I had missed my bus (easy to do in a new place with no map), or had decided to take a later trip home, as the travel agency way up the road was of course firmly closed by then.
To the visitor, the whole bus station area is chaotic, shabby and badly organized - I was astonished when I first saw it because Cambridge Uni is world famous! - and the whole set-up seems designed to PUT the visitor OFF, rather than to get him or her in a happy, relaxed mood to enjoy Cambridge and to spend money lavishly. Whoever is in charge of PR for Cambridge city-centre is doing a very bad job! First impressions count enormously.
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Map showing Bus Station - Stagecoach Cambus on Drummer Street