Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Objects thrown at Busway vehicles

The BBC is reporting a spate attacks on the Busway last Monday evening (18 Nov), between Longstanton and Histon. What are described as "heavy objects" were thrown at four Stagecoach buses around 18.00. It would be surprising if a cyclist didn't see something, given that this is a busy time of the evening for commuters. If you have any information - or know anyone who does - please ensure it's passed on to the police. Fortunately, no injuries are reported. But on another occasion...?

Follow this link for the details as reported by the BBC.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Busway diversions sometimes benefit

I'm pleased to offer a guest post, from Barry, a resident of Orchard Park. He notes that the current (rather long-term) diversion of Busway services does bring benefits to some people, offering.journeys that the "normal" timetable simply doesn't, at present provide.

Barry writes:

The Guided Busway between Histon and the junction close to Orchard Park West is now to remain closed until January.  Stagecoach apologise for the disruption, and indeed it is bad news for most passengers on the traditional A & D routes, who have longer journey times as the buses divert through Orchard Park.

It’s also bad news for people wanting to go to most of Orchard Park in the evening; no buses go through the estate after 9pm and the stop on Histon Rd that the evening B services call at is a long walk from Orchard Park East.  It's also unfortunate for anyone in Orchard Park wanting a direct bus all the way to Huntingdon or Peterborough.

Overall however, Orchard Park wins handsomely from this, and when things go back to normal the service we’ve enjoyed since the summer will be sorely missed.  Not only has our rush hour service more than doubled from 4 buses an hour to 10 (even before you consider that the diverted B’s still aren’t that far from the Orchard Park West stop), but we now benefit from direct services to the Science Park, Cambridge North Station, Cambridge Station, Addenbrooke’s, Trumpington & beyond.  I’ve used the bus more in the last 5 months than in the previous 5 years since I moved here, as the convenience of the bus now beats cycling to the stations!

Users of the B also benefit from a more direct journey into Cambridge (though they are a bit more at risk of congestion above J32 of the A14).

With the changes having become at least a medium term thing it’s a shame that the last three evening Bs weren’t rerouted via the Science Park so that they could have served Orchard Park too; I feel that more people would have benefited from it serving all the other stops north of the city centre instead of Jesus Lane and Shire Hall (and they might have found out that in fact more people than they think work late at the Science Park!!!).  It might not have seemed worth arranging for the initial two weeks, but for six months (or maybe more???) it could have been.

Perhaps when services return to normal will also be a good time to look at the location of the Orchard Park East stop, which is located only a few yards round the corner from where it could have been served by more than twice as many buses.
Thanks to Barry for sharing his thoughts.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Busway diversion extended - softly, softly

Those with good memories will recall that, at the last count, the Busway between Histon and Orchard Park was due to reopen next Monday, 4 November.

Well, guess what? That's not going to happen! I bet that took readers by surprise. Or not.

Yesterday, the County Council quietly updated their online "News" item on the closure to announce that the track will now reopen in "mid-January". Will it? Only time will tell...

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

What's in a name?

Apologies to those who already know what follows, but I'm working on the principle that there are some to whom this might be new - and even some of those who might be interested.

It might come as no surprise to learn that there is a national database of bus stops - or, rather, a national database of access points to public transport (including, therefore, all bus stops). It's maintained by the Dept of Transport. Anyone interested in more background in this might want to follow this link. You can even download a copy yourself of the whole or part by following this link.

There are at least two "problems" with this database. One is that some operators choose not to use any of the authorised stop names in their timetables or apps, or on tickets. It's not like there's any penalty for non-compliance! The other is that data schema provides for a number of different names for a particular stop. Whilst there are sound reasons for this (length, for example), it doesn't exactly help provide any sort of consistency.

One particular example may be of interest to readers of this blog. What do you call the Busway Fen Drayton stop? Since there's no obvious ambiguity (nobody's likely to confuse it with one of the stops in Fen Drayton - or are they?), perhaps you simply go for "Fen Drayton". Context is everything!

According to the national database, the official "Common Name" of this stop is:

The Busway Fen Drayton Lakes

The registered short form of the name (needed in situations where the Common Name is too long) is:

Busway Fen Drayton

I don't think I've ever seen either of those in use.

The schema also has a field for 'Landmark'. In this instance the name "Fen Drayton Reserve" is assigned. And Busway users will have no difficulty spotting that this is the name that the signboards on both platforms carry. Someone (not me!) even took a photo of one of the boards, and here it is.

The County Council's Busway map (and their real-time data service, provided by an external contractor) uses "Fen Drayton Lakes" - a simplified form of the Common Name, but not one invested with any authority by the national database. Stagecoach avoid the issue by excluding the stop from its Busway timetable and pretending it doesn't exist (although all this means is that it's not a timing point for journeys).

But at least all of the above are intelligible to the average traveller. Which is more than you can say for an extreme variant which the County Council included in one of their frequent  closure announcements back in September. What is the average passenger supposed to make of this?

"Holywell Ferry stops will be closed"

How much local knowledge should a passenger be expected to bring to their prospective journey? Hands up anyone who was alive when the ferry last operated?

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Solar energy at St Ives Park and Ride

We have just become aware of a proposal to create a green energy facility at St Ives Park and Ride.

St Ives Park & Ride Smart Energy Grid will be a ‘first of its kind’ in the UK, paving the way for future green energy projects.
The project will install carports above the two central car parking sections, to which solar panels will be fitted.
These panels will generate renewable electricity - powering not only the site, but also electric vehicle charging points and local businesses in the years to come.
Construction is expected to start in early 2020 and will take up to one year to complete. The carpark will remain open during this time, with construction work being carefully coordinated to minimise the impact on users of the site.
Public Presentations
The team behind the St Ives Park & Ride Smart Energy Grid will be in St Ives over three evenings in October to discuss the project and answer questions and the final one is on Tuesday 29 October, 7pm-8pm at the St Ives Corn Exchange, The Tony Burgess Room, The Pavement, The Old Riverport, St Ives PE27 5AD.
More information about the project can be found on the Energy Investment Team's website here:

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Diversions and stop closures, Sunday 20 October

Due to some sporting event taking place in and around Cambridge city centre on Sunday 20 October, there are diversions and stop closures affecting Busway services all day.

Stagecoach report the following:

Towards St. Ives – We will be unable to serve stops located on New Square, Jesus Lane, Castle Street and Shire Hall. Passengers are advised to board at Drummer Street bay 12.
Towards City Centre – We will be unable to serve stops on Shire Hall, Round Church Street and New Square. Passengers are advised to alight at Drummer Street bay 12.