Friday 29 June 2012

Busway route B extension to Peterborough

Following the proposal by Stagecoach to extend busway service B from Huntingdon to Peterborough calling at Sawtry only, and to withdraw its service 46 between Huntingdon and Stilton, thereby leaving the Alconburys without a bus service, there has been a protest meeting attended by 250-300 people. See Hunts Post ( 27 June, page 3). The Hunts Post says that Cllr Maguire has suggested Stagecoach increases fares rather than cut the service, and that Cambridgeshire county council's Transport Manager, Paul Nelson, is investigating a 'community transport solution' for the Alconburys.

On page 7 of the same issue are 3 letters about the bus changes. One asks where in Sawtry the route B will stop, and suggests the need for an alternative bus route , presumably to link the string of villages, between which it will soon be impossible to travel by bus. A resident of St Ives calls for an enforceable public transport policy. Councillors Kadic and Brown write to say they are determined to ensure that the Alconburys have a bus service that meets local needs.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Race for Life - alteration to bus route B

On Sunday 1 July Stagecoach route B will be unable to call at bus stops in Jesus Lane and Round Church Street until 2pm. This is due to the Race for Life which is taking place in Cambridge that day. Click here for details of alterations.

Saturday 23 June 2012

A closer look at the new route A timetable

Stagecoach has been saying for a while that the busway route A would be extended to serve St Ives Bus Station and the northern part of St Ives. I got the impression that the bus route would form a loop turning left at the Seven Wives, then right into Hill Rise and right again to return towards Cambridge down the top section of Ramsey Road. 
However, the new timetable, as revealed on Cambridgeshire County Council’s transport pages (click here), seems to indicate that the buses won’t perform this loop, but will run either to St Ives Burrel Road or to Wyton Camp via Ansley way, which I think is bus-speak for one of the stops in Hill Rise. 
When I looked in detail at the timetable, it struck me that route A doesn’t provide a consistent service frequency throughout the working day to the northern end of St Ives. 

So what will the service be like? 
Monday-Friday departures from Wyton Camp will be at 06.20 then 07.20, then every half hour until 17.20, then 17.58, 18.28 and 18.58. There is an extra early morning journey starting from Ansley Way ( i.e. Hill Rise) at 05.57. But no 06.50 departure, which you'd think would be a peak travel to work journey. During this early morning period, several route A journeys towards Cambridge start from St Ives Bus Station.
From Burrel Road ( Mopnday-Friday) buses will leave at 07.40 (school days only), then 08.10 and every half hour until 17.10. So, as with the Wyton Camp service, a bit thin on the ground during the morning peak for passengers heading towards Cambridge. 

Heading out from Cambridge, the first A  of the day arrives at Wyton Camp at 08.11 then half hourly until 17.41 (which is the 16.27 from Trumpington and16.53 from Cambridge New Square). Then follows an inexplicable one-and-a half-hour gap when service A runs no further than St Ives Bus Station, forcing passengers from Trumpington, Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge Railway Station, Parkside,The Science Park and CRC, to have to change onto a B, which, of course, won’t take them further up Ramsey Road than the Seven Wives.  Later arrivals at Wyton Camp are at 19.11, 19.26, 19.56, 20.26, with two further journeys terminating at Ansley Way at 20.49 and 21.19. 

Arrivals at Burrel Road are at 08.51 then half hourly until 1721, which is the 16.38 departure from Cambridge New Square, and a bit early for most people finishing work. Curiously the Saturday service to both Wyton Camp and Burrel Road is steadier throughout the day, and there is no evening gap in service to Wyton Camp.
During the late evening, route B serves the top of Ramsey Road and Hill Rise as at present, with four trips in each direction Monday-Saturday. There is no change to the Sunday bus service.

I hope I have understood the new timetable correctly. As I mentioned in another posting, the old and new times are mingled together in a single timetable, which makes reading it difficult.

Swan killed by guided bus

The Cambridge News has revealed that a swan was killed on the busway recently when it flew in the wrong direction and was hit by a passing guided bus.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Bus petition

The Hunts Post ( 20 June, page 25) reports that about 300 people have signed a petition against bus service changes affecting the northern end of St Ives. Route B will run fast from St Ives to Huntingdon by skipping the top end of Ramsey Road and Hill Rise.  Route A will serve those parts of St Ives, but will not link to Huntingdon. Andy Campbell, of Stagecoach, is, in effect, saying that not enough people travel from Ramsey Road / Hill Rise to Huntingdon to justify the detour, and that providing faster service between Cambridge, St Ives and Huntingdon has priority.

Busway feeder routes

A Bluntisham resident complain that changes to the service 21 will result in her husband being unable to catch his bus connection to Huntingdon Station for his commute to work ( Hunts Post, 20 June, page 15). Stagecoach says this service is run 'on the back of the St Ivo School transport contract' which contract their manager, Andy Campbell, is confident of retaining. If he does retain the contract, reinstatement of the current level of service would be one of the likely options, but there are clearly no guarantees. Although no information about changes to Stagecoach's service 21 are yet to be found on the County Council's bus service web pages, the route A services that leave Somersham and service Bluntisham at 06.10, 06.30 and 06.50 are shown as ending on 20 July.  The 06.45 route A connection from Chatteris and Pidley is being withdrawn. Click here to see timetable.

Serving the villages north of St Ives with viable buses linking to busway services going in both directions is fraught with problems, and judging by the success of St Ives Park & Ride, many people from these places are simply driving to the busway. The poor frequency of the village buses, and the often roundabout routes they take in order to serve a loop of villages, is not working for them.

Busway extension to Peterborough

The intention of Stagecoach to extend its busway service to run between Huntingdon and Peterborough has taken a step forward, with Andy Campbell of Stagecoach stating that he has applied to the local authority to change existing service 46 and to register a new route B between those two places. The B will run through to/from the busway and link Peterborough with Cambridge (Hunts Post, 20 June, page 7). This information is provided in an editor's  note and responds to letters from residents of Stilton and Alconbury Weston, villages that are affected by these changes. The 46 will be withdrawn south of Stilton, and the new service B will serve Sawtry, thus depriving Stilton of a serve to Sawtry and Huntingdon. The villages of Alconbury, Alconbury Weston and Upton (total population about 2700) will be left without a bus service, it seems. The decision is being made, says Mr Campbell, on commercial grounds, and he thinks the new timetables will 'replace most of the current passenger journeys to and from Huntingdon'.  Options for intermediate journeys, it seems, are of no interest to Stagecoach, and neither is the concept of providing a regular ( until now hourly) service linking the string of sizeable villages on the route with the towns at either end. On of the letter writers wonders why Cambridgeshire County Council made the investment in the busway only for bus companies to withdraw feeder services. Elsewhere in the same issue of Hunts Post ( 20 June, page 15) are two articles on the same topic. Andy Campbell is said to blame the County Council for cutting its subsidies to bus services, combined with a cut in the bus service operators' grant for Stagecoach's decision.

Revised timetables for Stagecoach busway services starting 23 July

The new busway timetable for Stagecoach's services A and B can now be viewed on Cambridgeshire County Council's bus timetable pages. Click here for details in 'print format'. Unfortunately the format does not make viewing easy as the current times and the new times are not separated out into two independent tables. However, there is a useful list of SMS codes for stops served by the A and B.  Wyton Camp gains a half hourly service  (route A)to/from St Ives and Cambridge for most of the day Monday-Saturday.  The other two route A service each hour terminate at Burrel Road in St Ives. Hinchingbrooke Hospital gets two service B per hour, and Huntingdon rail Station one an hour. Of course, the Hinchingbrooke buses wil stop on Brampton Road just outside ths railway station.For details of what those services are, click here. The revised times are not yet available on the Stagecoach website.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Busway botany

Anyone travelling the busway during the last week or two cannot fail to have noticed the stunning display of wildflowers, and especially the millions of Ox Eye Daisies. My friend Andrew Brown took this picture and has kindly allowed me to use it here.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Chesterton railway station

Plans for the new railway station at Chesterton, which will be linked by an extension to the guided busway, have been revealed by Cambridgeshire County Council, according to the Cambridge News (12 June). Government approval for the station, which will open in 2015, has now been granted. The Cambridge News article has an annotated aerial view of the new station site and its surroundings.

Continuing saga of Station Road bus stop and congestion at Harrison Way

There is a cracking letter in this week's Hunts Post (13 June, page 6) about several of the on-going issues to do with the busway in St Ives. First, the proposed bus stop in Station Road, close to what the writer describes as a 'dangerous junction'. He recommends viewing the junction on the Fink Creative webcam. The webcam only refreshes every minute, so you may have to wait a while to see a bus coming round the corner. It is a sharper-than-90-degrees corner, and buses have to swing right out to make the turning. He is certain that extending the service A into the town centre will reduce congestion on Harrison Way, but questions why the County Council thinks it must provide a bus stop near St Ives Bus Station when at Cambridge the A does not stop at Drummer Street Bus Station. The existing bus stops at East Road and The Quadrant are being ovelooked as alternatives to Station Road. The letter also discusses the lack of a car park at Swavesey, concern about the extra £2m of government money to ecnourage traffic off the A14, the extra traffic on the A1096 due to motorists coming off the A14 to St Ives Park & Ride, and proposes peak-hour traffic lights at the Meadow Lane roundabout linked to measures to prevent rat-running through central St Ives.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Compensation for loss of gardens at Trumpington

One little known side effect of building the busway is that some land had to be bought from 34 householders in Trumpington, who lost a strip off their gardens. Apparently these people have not yet been paid their compensation money. The affected streets are Lantree Crescent and Cranleigh Close, Trumpington. The County Council says there has been no undue delay on its part, since it deliberately waited to value the land until after the busway was built - this was meant to ensure that not more land than was needed was acquired. (Cambridge News website.)

Extension of busway across Stourbridge Common

The Cambridge News reveals that environmental campaigners are concerned that the guided busway might be extended to run across Stourbridge Common, and ancient meadow on the north-east fringe of Cambridge city. In fact, the proposal is merely to ensure that a strip of land adjacent to the railway line is safeguarded for possible future use, though no specific plans have been made for a busway extension at this time. A County Council spokesman has said that the plans to open a new station at Chesterton will reduce the need to extend the busway across the Common. However, plans are going ahead to create a cycle route (the Chisholm Trail) alongside the railway.

St Ives Park & Ride

The park & ride site at St Ives is to be doubled in size thanks to a Department for Transport grant of £2m. The site will expand from 500 to 1000 car spaces and will hopefully attract even more car users off the A14. (Huntingdon & St Ives News & Crier, Jun7, page 33 and Cambridge News website)

Monday 4 June 2012

St Ives bank holiday market

Once again, St Ives Bus Station is full of market stalls, so buses are having to run from The Quadrant. Fortunately only a Sunday bus service is running today, so congestion at The Quadrant shouldn't be too much of an issue. As with the early May Bank Holiday, Station Road there are no stalls in Station Road.

Friday 1 June 2012

Jubilee Bank Holiday service on busway

Stagecoach will be running a Sunday timetable on the busway on 4th and 5th June. Details at this web page . A Sunday timetable will also be opperated by Whippet on the two days of the Jubilee Bank Holiday. See .