Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Bank Holiday Monday, 31 August

Stagecoach will be running a Sunday service on the forthcoming August Bank Holiday Monday. Nothing unusual in that, of course. But do remember that new timetables will be in operation. For the most part the changes to the Sunday timetable are only minor. But that's not the case if you use Cambridge North, live in Orchard Park, or are accustomed to using the Godmanchester services (you'd be better to consider the Whippet X3 in future for this last if you want to travel into Cambridge).

Whippet will also be running a Sunday service, with the U continuing to extend to/from the Biomedical Campus (but note that the Outpatients stop remains suspended).

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Major changes to routes and timetables from 30 August

Stagecoach have announced some major changes to Busway services from 30 August. Full details, all new/revised timetables, and a route map, are on the Stagecoach website. What follows is a summary.

There are two main changes:

Busway-fitted vehicles will, in future, operate only on the Busway, also between St Ives Park & Ride and either Marley Road or Hinchingbrooke Hospital, and - within Cambridge - between the two sections of the Busway. This means that Busway vehicles will no longer provide feeder services to the rural areas beyond St Ives or to Peterborough and Royston. Rural connections will be provided by new services V1-V4 (serving, respectively, Ramsey, Chatteris, Somersham and Boxworth), operating a similar service to the existing "through" workings, but requiring passengers to change at St Ives. Would-be passengers should note that Stagecoach do NOT guarantee these connections, which could be an issue for commuters heading home in the afternoon, as these are the last services of the day to these destinations. There's also a new service V5 providing a an early-morning service from Godmanchester and late-evening return journeys - but these will operate through from Cambridge (as a "B" as far as Hinchingbrooke Hospital), so no change of vehicle will be required. Peterborough will be served by service 904 from St Ives - this will operate via Houghton village, but otherwise follow the main road between St Ives and Huntingdon and not divert via the estates (which will continue to be served by route B). In a reversion to earlier practice, Royston will be served by a separate Royston/Cambridge service, the newly-established 915.

The A and B routes are being switched. In line with the revision originally planned for March (but not implemented at the time), the A will in future operate via Shire Hall (although, because of the Histon Road closure, Cambridge-bound journeys will travel via the Science Park for the next year or so). The B will serve Cambridge North station. The A (single-decker buses) will continue to serve the main Railway Station and the Biomedical Campus, whilst the B (double-deckers) terminates in Cambridge City Centre.

And, just to note, services D and R will cease completely from 30 August (the R has been suspended since the early days of the pandemic).

Finally, a reminder that maps and timetables, and more detailed explanations of the changes, are on the Stagecoach website

Monday, 6 July 2020

How the flooding problem might be overcome?

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.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Busway construction issues - it's back to court again!

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.

BAM Nuttall is defending the claim.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Another long-term Busway B diversion - yes, seriously!

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.

For more information go to:

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Changes from 14/15 June

Important changes from 14/15 June.

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.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Round Church Street closure, 8 June-6 July

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.