Saturday, 4 February 2012

Traffic congestion, rat runs and developments at Godmanchester

A letter in this week's Hunts Post (1 February, page 6) draws attention to increasing numbers of motorists illegally using the St Ives Town Bridge as a rat run to avoid congestion on Harrison way caused by the busway traffic lights.

The writer also questions the wisdom of erecting a new bus stop in Station Road, St Ives.

This proposal, mentioned in an early blog post, is about installing a new bus stop outside Hyperion auction house. How exactly this will be achieved, the council has not yet revealed, but it seems to me that it must involve felling a number of trees,  widening the pavement, and narrowing the carriageway. Although Cambridge-bound busway buses will be able to avoid looping back into the bus station, all other buses arriving at the bus station will still have to turn that corner. So, while it might speed up some busway services, it may cause extra delays to other buses, and general motor traffic in Station Road.

A better solution surely would be to create extra bus bays on the north side of the bus station to allow busway service to Cambridge to avoid the loop.

St Ives Bus Station is too small for the number of buses currently using it. Perhaps some services currently terminating at the Bus Station could be extended to terminate at the Park & Ride, where there is plenty of space. They might have to take out the short sections of busway on either side of the Harrison Road light and put in rising bollards.

A second letter on page 6 refers to the Harrison Way lights causing tailbacks through central St Ives which in turn are causing busway services arriving in from Huntingdon and Ramsey Road to be delayed.

Elsewhere in this issue ( Hunts Post, 1 February, page 29) there is an article about the proposed development of 700 new house at Bear's Croft Farm on the outskirts of Godmanchester. It is well known that Godmanchester has a poor bus service, especially in the Cambridge direction. The developers, Fairfield Partnership, have annouced plans to improve the bus service in order to minimise congestion on the A14. They want 4 buses an hour at peak, and 3 at off peak to link Godmanchester with Huntingdon, plus 3 an hour at peak and 2 an hour off peak from Godmanchester to St Ives and the busway via Hemingford Grey. How these two proposed services, with conflicting frequencies, will work, is not clear to me.

A big drawback is that these services will have to traverse a short section of the A14 to get from Godmanchester to Hemingford Grey, and will therefore be subject to the usual delays when the A14 is blocked. Knowing that the Whippet route 1A/5 that currently runs via the A14 is just as quick as the busway services ( most of the time), does beg the question of how a Godmanchester to Cambridge via St Ives and the busway route could be fast and reliable enough to attract the Godmanchester commuter traffic. I know one person who commutes from Godmanchester to Cambridge who find that the best way is to drive to Madingley Park & Ride and bus from there.

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