Thursday, 28 November 2019

Busway Consultation - improvements on the way!

[UPDATE 4 Dec: More information has been posted to the Stagecoach website since this post was first published. Follow this link. But note that no timetable data is available yet.]

Stagecoach have presented some of the results from the Busway Consultation carried out in the summer. Before reading on, please take a moment to note that what follows is (a) my interpretation of what I heard, read and saw at today's event, and (b) still subject to alteration. A start date for service changes haven't been announced - that's dependent on the reopening of the Busway between Histon and Orchard Park, delivery of sufficient new vehicles to operate the proposed service, driver training, and registration of revised routes and timetables with the Traffic Commissioners. (And that's not intended to be a comprehensive list, by the way!)

Stagecoach received over 2300 responses to the consultation; almost 30% from daily users, and over half from people who use the Busway to travel to work. The "top" stops for boarding are Longstanton and St Ives Park & Ride, whilst the top three destinations are Cambridge City Centre, the main railway station and the Biomedical Campus.

Some 18 new buses are expected (that's more than I was expecting - my understanding had been that the contract was for 12). These are large two-door vehicles - Volvo/Alexander Dennis Enviro E400 XLB buses, a model already in use in Edinburgh (and very nice they were too, when I travelled on a couple back in the spring).

Stagecoach are looking to simplify the Busway services, so all will run as either A or B (with the current plan to discontinue the D and R routes). The aim is to schedule a 5-minute frequency during peak times between St Ives and Cambridge. Improvements to some of the "regular road" services beyond this "core" can also be expected, such as extending more services to/from Godmanchester and Brampton, and maybe serving Alconbury Weald. Again, these are just examples; we'll have to wait for fuller details.

For operational reasons, between Histon and the City Centre the A will switch to operating the current B route, and vice versa (so the A will come into the city via Histon Road and Shire Hall, whilst the B will serve the Science Park and Cambridge North). Consequently, the much larger new buses will not operate in the Jesus Lane/Bridge St/Round Church St area.

Amongst other things, I believe this means direct services to the railway station from Orchard Park (now that the Orchard Park stops will be served by the A), which will be welcomed by some, for sure. At least some B journeys will run to/from the railway station.

The A will run to Trumpington P&R on Sundays for the first time. And there will be later services on the A on certain days (Thurs/Fri/Sat, perhaps?).

There were even freebies (as the pic attempts to show)! And it was a good opportunity to meet Stagecoach staff (and not only back-office folk, as there were also a couple of drivers present - a nice touch).

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