Monday 8 August 2011

Sunday 7th August - opening day

It was a fine sunny morning, and we caught the very first public departure from St Ives to Cambridge - the 09.00 service B. The bus left St Ives more or less on time at 09.01. There was a 3 minute stop at St Ives Park & Ride where the bus filled to capacity.  A relief bus followed ours from the Park & Ride.
St Ives P&R   09.06
Fen Drayton   09.10
Swavesey       09.13
Longstanton  09.17-09.18
Oakington      09.22 ( did not stop)
Histon             09.27-09.28
Orchard Pk E  09.30
Orchard Pk W 09.32
Shire Hall       09.37
Round Church 09.40
New Square    09.41-09.42
Drummer Street 09.43

That's 43 minutes. We were due in at 09.32 - so 11 minutes late. Not a good start.

Impressions of the journey sitting upstairs in a double decker. A fairly smoothe ride, but some gentle oscillation when running at speed. A few slight jolts passing over some of the bridle track crossings. The bus had to slow down considerably at road crossing, where, of course the guideway has a break, and presumably there is a speed limit for re-entering the guideway.

I was astonished to realise that the reserve track running through the Orchard Park estate is not a section of busway, but merely a pair of concrete 'farm tracks' with grass up the middle. Speed on the 'farm tracks' seemed to be much less than 30mph.

Even on a quiet Sunday morning, it took us 13 minutes from Orchard Park East to Drummer Street compared withe the advertised time of 9 minutes.

Not a good start!

The return trip on the  12.35 from Drummer Street was eventful. The electronic display at the departure bay showed that the bus was delayed by 25 minutes. There was a Guided Bus sitting at the far side of the bus station but it did not drive over to allow the waiting passengers to climb aboard. I walked over to ask the driver if he was going to pick us up and he said he was 'the relief' bus and had to wait until the regular bus was full. This seemed a crazy bit of logic, but eventually he drove across, we boarded, and then set off at 13.46, 11 minutes late. This time the Bridge Street bottleneck meant that it took 19 minutes reach Orchard Park ( the timetable says 9 minutes). Progress on the busway was steady but sedate. And we alighted at St Ives Bus Station at 13.32, a journey time of 46 minutes ( timetabled 34 minutes). But if you add on the 11 minutes late start, that give 57 minutes for the journey.

This compares very badly with the journey times on Friday and Saturday by the old route.

Question - why are there no ticket machines at Drummer Street and St Ives Bus Station? Surely they'd speed up loading times at these busy places.

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