Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Whippet changes from 19 October

Whippet, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, have announced changes to the timetable for the U (Universal) service, which uses the southern section of Busway as part of its route between Eddington and the Biomedical Campus. The changes take effect on Monday 19 October.

Peak-hour services will operate Monday-Friday every 12 minutes. The frequency of services at other times of day and at the weekend are unchanged. Journey times are being extended to reduce late running. Weekend operation to/from the Biomedical Campus, introduced in late March, is retained.

The new timetable can be downloaded from the Whippet website.

Services have already returned to operating via Addenbrookes Outpatients, although this may not be stable, depending on future infection rates and Hospital needs.

According to the University's Travel Newsletter:

The University will be increasing funding for the Universal Bus service over the next four months which, combined with funding from the Government COVID-19 Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG) Restart package will enable the route to run every 12 minutes throughout the morning and evening peak periods, while maintaining the weekend services to CBC that we began running during the national lockdown in March. The additional funding will allow the level of service provided by the Universal to be maintained as the roads get busier again and the number of passengers carried on each service is reduced due to social distancing requirements on board.


Busway timetable changes from 1st November

 Stagecoach have announced a revised timetable to commence from 1st November.

Core busway routes A, B and C will connect. with feeder services to/from various smaller towns and villages near St Ives and Huntingdon.

Changes include - increase frequency between St Ives and Cambridge, and later journeys on Sunday evenings. On the other hand, it seems that Huntingdon Rail Station is no longer served directly —passengers wishing to transfer to rail services there would have to use a Hinchingbrooke bus and alight at the nearest stop in George Street, Huntingdon.

Details at https://www.stagecoachbus.com/promos-and-offers/east/busway-and-connecting-services#

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Partial closure on southern section, 25-28 September

 A stretch of the Busway, between Trumpington Park & Ride and the Foster Road stop, will be closed completely from 19.00 on Friday 25 September until Monday 28 September. This is a "complete" closure, so impacts not just on buses and their passengers, but also on pedestrians and cyclists.

There's nothing at present about this closure on the County Council's Busway website (why not???), so this information comes courtesy of a Cambridgeshire Live report - which doesn't specify exactly when the reopening is due to take place.

The closure is to allow upgrade work on the traffic lights controlling the single-track section to be carried out.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Autonomous vehicles - trials no longer to take place on the Busway

Readers with  long memories - and a wider interest in public transport developments, perhaps - may recall the plan for a trial of autonomous vehicles to utilise the southern section of the Busway. According to our last blog post on the subject, the first paying passengers were expected this year.

Things have changed! In a brief report to the September meeting of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly it was announced that the trial will no longer take place on the Busway, but will instead utilise the University's West Cambridge site. Other aspects of the trial have also changed - not just the timeframe (only to be expected in the current circumstances) but the number of vehicles being produced (halved from 6 to 3).

The Busway had been selected because it offered the prospect of filling the early morning/late evening/weekend voids in the timetables for scheduled bus services. Although there has been some filling of these voids in the past 6 months, there is no suggestion in the Joint Assembly report that the switch away from the Busway was due to lack of potential benefit.

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.