Only the Greater Cambridge Partnership Transport Offices have declined *again* to state their comprehensive answer to this.
“They’ll join the existing bus network” simply does not cut the mustard. Here’s me asking the same question over five years ago.
Above – me in 2017 with more hair and fewer greys.
Fast forward to summer 2021 and the Greater Cambridge Partnership published their extensive independent audit which, if I was to be cynical rubber-stamped what they already wanted to do anyway. Gemma Gardner wrote this piece in the Cambridge Independent in June 2021.
The Independent Audit was a substantial document – you can read the papers here. Within it, there was this little comment that warned about the Cambourne-2-Cambridge Busway that has generated huge opposition ever since it was first proposed.
“No detailed modelling of the likely impact has been conducted so it remains uncertain whether bus accessibility [to the city centre] will improve.”OBC Independent audit (scroll down to the documents) It’s Published 04 Aug 2021
Furthermore, what the consultation doesn’t tell us is how the buses will be managed once they hit the city centre.
“What are they going to do with all the buses when they hit the city centre?”
Edward Leigh of Smarter Cambridge Transport asked the same question time and again.
“The twenty-seven bus stops around Drummer St are too widely dispersed to function as a bus station. And bus routes through the city centre, especially Hobson St, Bridge St, Magdalene St and Silver St, are unsuited to large buses.”Smarter Cambridge Transport 29 July 2021
The closest alternative workable proposal for all of the additional buses (and they all need to be electric buses because of air quality), is the proposal of a circular hub around the city centre, rather than a big bus station in the middle for which there is no space.
Above – the concept from Smarter Cambridge Transport (Note the blue lines were the original CAM Metro proposals since abandoned).
The idea is to ensure that the frequency of buses on what is effectively an inner ring road is as such that when you get off one bus, the one taking you to your direct destination will be there in minutes, and at such a frequency that you don’t need a timetable. The only problem with this model is that we lose the convenience of being dropped off outside The Grand Arcade, Emmanuel Street or Drummer Street. In which case there’s an argument for having interchanges elsewhere in the city for an equivalent non-stop ‘City Rail Link’ that we used to have in the 1980s and 1990s – where anyone coming into Cambridge via the railway station could catch a non-stop bus from Emmanuel Street to the Railway Station. Only this time around you’d have a service that took you from the city centre out to hubs at Cambridge North and Cambridge South stations as well.
“What do bus drivers past, present, and future think?”
I haven’t a clue. They have been conspicuous by their absence in all of this. I would have loved to have seen them playing an integral part in all of this through their trade unions, but for whatever reason this hasn’t happened. Or rather it hasn’t happened at a public-facing level.
“They have proposed an inner circular route as indicated by @SmarterCam”
They have – but it’s only three buses per hour.
It’s the orange/pink dotted line indicating a new line. And I can already see the pinch points where that route will get trapped in traffic – even with ‘green request’ traffic signalling on the buses.
South Cambridge – how does it look?
The big missed opportunity for me is the failure to link Cherry Hinton with the Ice Rink by the Newmarket Road Park and Ride.
Above – the red line through the centre of the picture is the Citi-3 Bus that goes up and down Cherry Hinton Road. Normally it goes straight down Fulbourn Road (below the label “Cherry Hinton” rather than around it on this diagram) before terminating at the Tesco store between the two old villages. My view is that the existing route should be extended from Tesco up to and past Teversham, and then from there left onto Newmarket Road and onto the P&R site where the Ice Rink is. That way you get all of the children (and adults who live in Coleridge, Queen Edith’s, and Cherry Hinton whose homes are in walking distance of a bus stop on Cherry Hinton Road able to access the ice rink without needing to be driven there. Furthermore, it increases the financial stability of the ice rink.
There’s also a long-called-for return of a bus route from north Cherry Hinton (where lots of houses are being built) down Coldham’s Lane, passing Sainsbury’s and the Beehive Centre – although it’ll be too late to save the existing shops on the Beehive Centre. Whether it will be enough to boost The Grafton Centre remains to be seen. I’m of the view that it was the withdrawal of direct bus services by Stagecoach to that shopping centre that led to its decline.
North Cambridge – how does it look?
You can see the proposed outer ring on the left – the purple dotted line. Effectively it’s an Addenbrooke’s – Eddington – Science Park – Station service.
Above – there’s also a proposed service from Abbey Ward direct to Addenbrooke’s – again a long-called for service from one of our most economically-deprived parts of our city.
Even with all of this and the additional cycleways, I don’t think it will be enough to get motorists out of their cars.
I still want a light rail with an underground tunnel
Ministers and politicians urgently need to be talking about and providing funding for light rail – even if it’s the essential feasibility studies at this stage.
There are more documents produced by UK Tram in their documents’ library here. Furthermore, anyone interested in campaigning for light rail can join the LRTA here (UK Tram being the trade association) – they’ve been going since the 1930s. campaigners.
There are a number listed in the sidebar of events here. I’ve asked for one to cover Queen Edith’s/Cherry Hinton/Coleridge as there’s a big gap between the two in Abbey and Trumpington. I expect there will be more to come for some of the surrounding villages too.
“Will we get congestion charging then?”
Those in favour of the Sustainable Travel Zone
The launch of the The Cambridgeshire Travel Alliance means that environmentalist campaigners and others who are in favour of reduced motor traffic have a point of focus. The founding members are:
That’s not to say they don’t have their opponents – I wrote more in a previous blogpost. I think the local councillors will have to make a lot of concessions on exemptions, and a lot of employers will have to cough up too, in order to get congestion charging to gain a critical mass of consent from the people. Again, see the end of the blogpost in the link above. Furthermore, I think there’s a huge program of democracy education that needs to be undertaken in the near future because understandably people are confused as to who has the legal powers to do what. For that, the buck stops with ministers because they created this mess of a structure that we’re currently stuck with. Hence my repeated calls for a massive overhaul of local government and public services across England.
Food for thought?
If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to: