The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway linking St Ives, Cambridge and Trumpington opened on 7 August 2011. There have been successes - millions of passengers on the buses, and thousands of cyclists, walkers and horse-riders on the 'access track'. But there have also been problems - flooding of the cycle track, punctuality spring to mind, accidents and bumpy track. The blog is for anyone who wants to discuss their experiences of using the guided busway.
A recent petition to the County Council raised the issue that is the almost annual closure of the Busway bridleway/maintenance track due to flooding between St Ives and Swavesey. The petition collected 244 signatures in the 3 months it was open. The petition reads:
Every year the guided busway cycle path is closed due to flooding between st ives and cambridge. This normally means having to swap from using environmental bikes to commuting by car.
There are a number improvement options to keep this commuter path open, the most basic being a small path slightly up the bank on the sections that flood for example.
Will you please consider these improvements to allow this cycleway to be a reliable option for commuters please?
The County Council response reads as follows. Note, in particular, the 3rd paragraph.
The maintenance track runs alongside the busway in this area. This is designated as a bridleway but can be closed at any time for works required on the Busway itself under the 2005 Busway Order. The track sits within flood zones varying from type 2 to type 3 (areas at significant risk of flooding). This area is designated a flood plain by the Environment Agency.
At some times of the year the flooding is severe and can reach several metres up the track bank. To institute a path wide enough for two way cyclists along the bank, without restricting the width of the existing maintenance track for maintenance and without undermining the structure of the bank could prove to be an expensive and unsatisfactory solution. To have cyclists moved closer to vehicles going 56 mph would be the opposite of what most individuals would wish to achieve.
The major infrastructure team have been asked to look at whether a solution could be found on the other side of the maintenance track, away from the Busway track itself and if this proves possible, to find sources of funding for it.
Over 30 million passenger journeys have been undertaken on the Busway since opening in 2011. The rapid transit system has achieved its goal of being a reliable option for commuters rather than to commute by car. Therefore the obvious option at present when the maintenance track is flooded is for commuters to use the buses rather than to revert to using their cars.
The petition was formally introduced to the 16 June meeting of the County Council's Highways and Transport Committee, but was not discussed.
Longer-term readers of this blog will be aware that the original construction of the Busway raised a number of issues regarding costs and alleged construction defects. Back in August 2013, the County Council and contractors BAM Nuttall settled a case out of court. There's more information about this in a couple of our 2013 posts - those of 30 August and 8 September.
Then in December 2016, New Civil Engineer reported that the County Council was suing BAM Nuttall for a £31 million for repair of defects - see the 15 December post. I haven't been able to trace what happened to that claim.
Fast forward to 2020... and the Cambridge Independent reports that the County Council is again pursuing a case against BAM Nuttall. And again over the cost of repairing what the Council alleges are defects. The Cambridge Independent report can be found here.
Now, given the speed at which civil court cases proceed it's possible that this latest one is simply a development from the 2016 claim. Or it might be entirely different.
Busway B passengers have had to put up with more than their fair share of diversions, stop changes and the like over the past year or more. Well, guess what - there's another long-term diversion due to come into operation on Monday 29 June.
This one is in connection with Phases B & D of the Greater Cambridge Partnership's Histon Road project, which covers the whole road between Kings Hedges Road and Victoria Road.
So... from Monday 29 June, Histon Road will be completely closed inbound. The B service will effectively follow the A route between Histon and Cambridge New Square, omitting Orchard Park,Shire Hall and Round Church St (currently closed anyway, but due to reopen in early July). Passengers who would normally alight at Shire Hall will find themselves with a significant problem, as there's no diversionary route available - you simply have to carry on into the City Centre and then catch an outbound service.
How long will this diversion last? Well, the GCP's announcement was noticeably vague on this - saying nothing more specific than that the closure would last "for the duration of the construction". Stagecoach say it will be for "several months". The GCP's project page, though, is more helpful - Phase B will last until spring 2021, and Phase D until summer 2021.
1, Stagecoach timetable changes (from 14 June)
The R remains suspended. There are more frequent services on routes A, B & D. Click here for more information, and here for the new timetables.
2. Concessionary pass holders (from 15 June)
The County Council is removing the temporary exception that allowed concessionary pass holders to travel before 0930 Mon-Fri. If you need to use the bus to access one of the early morning supermarket slots reserved for the elderly you'll have to pay to use the bus to get there (and possibly back).
3. Face coverings (from 15 June)
Face coverings will be compulsory on all public transport from 15 June.
There is reduced capacity on buses as a result of physical distancing requirements.
The inbound Busway "B" service will be diverted between 8 June and 6 July because Round Church Street is closed during that period. The Round Church Street stop will not be served (obviously!). Outbound journeys are not affected.
Busway services are operating to a Sunday timetable (using the current temporary timetables, of course) on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 May. Services B, D & U will be running, therefore, with the U extending to/from the Biomedical Campus. Essential travel only.
It's just been brought to my attention that the University has launched a consultation in connection with a review of the "U" (or "Universal") service. This is in preparation for the signing of a new contract, due to take effect in July 2021 [sic].
Of particular interest to those who follow this blog will be options around frequency of service (including reducing the frequency, compared with the pre-pandemic timetable) as well as a suggestion that some of the journeys between the Railway Station and the Biomedical Campus might revert to using Hills Road rather than the Busway. Also the possibility of extending the service to Babraham Road and/or Trumpington Park & Ride sites.
Anyway, please have a look at the consultation documentation. And pay particular attention to the closing date for submissions - it's May 26th.