Saturday 28 February 2015

Traffic speeds at Busway/A1096 crossing in St Ives

This week's Hunts Post (25 February, page 15) reveals the effect that the opening of the busway has had on traffic speeds on Harrison Way (the A1096) which links St Ives with the A14. The article is based pm department of Transport figures which show that speed on the A1096 has fallen by 5.8mph since July 2007. Not all the falls in speed can be attributed to the busway, however.

An 'all time low' was reached in January 2013, but since the traffic lights were re-sequenced to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from triggering the lights so frequently, speeds have started to rise again.

To read the article, visit the Hunts Post here.

The article does not, however, deal with other causes of delay on the A1096 such as closure of the A1123 at Earith Bridge when the river is high and St Ives becomes gridlocked. When are politicians going to vote money to raise the A1123 onto stilts at Earith to prevent these disruptive closures?

Nor does the article touch on the innumerable delays caused to bus passengers by  congestion in the narrow streets of St Ives, or in central Cambridge.

Friday 27 February 2015

Cambridge Half Marathon - Sunday 8th March

Busway route B will be diverted on Sunday 8th March until 4pm because of road closures for the half marathon.

Stops at New Square and Jesus Lane/Round Church Street will be unavailabe in both directions. The Castle Street (Shire Hall) stop will be only be available for buses going to St Ives.

Details here.

Friday 13 February 2015

Lighting the Busway - progress, or, Festina lente

Readers with good memories may recall three postings last year concerning proposals to light the southern section of the Busway. Approval was eventually given by the County Council's Economy and Environment Committee on 21 October. Now, there's an item on the Cambridge News website reporting that work on the lighting is "set to be completed before autumn". Whilst in theory "before autumn" could even mean "tomorrow", reading the story rather than the headline shows that it's more reasonable to expect completion in, say, "late summer" - the tender's only recently gone out, contractors aren't expected on site until June, and switch isn't anticipated until September, according to the Council. Still, progress is progress.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Stagecoach Busway vehicles no longer use 100% biofuel

The briefest of stories on the Cambridge News website reports that Stagecoach is no longer fuelling its Busway vehicles with 100% biofuel. As part of a change which Stagecoach seems to applying across the whole of the local fleet, they're to use a fuel with contains only 30% biofuel in its mix. Of course, biofuels and bioenergy are themselves hugely controversial, but that's a whole different story!

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Parking charges at busway Park & Ride sites

Parking charges are to start in April at St Ives and Longstanton Park & Ride sites according to an article in the Hunts Post (11 February, page 3).

The daily charge will be £1. There will be monthly ticket (£20) and annual ticket (£230). Prices for longer stay have been published (18-24 hours £10, 24-48 hours £20, 48-72 hours £30).

To prevent 'displacement' parking in Meadow Lane, restrictions will be introduced there.

Also reported by Cambridge News here.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Turning railways into busways?

The Institute of Economic Affairs has published a report  Paving over the tracks: a better use of Britain’s railways?,  by Paul Withrington and Richard Wellings which outlines how commuters could pay over 40% less for their journeys and more passengers could enjoy the luxury of a seat if the industry was sufficiently liberalised to allow some commuter railways in London to be converted into busways.

Today's Times newspaper (3 February 2015, page 14) covers this news referring to successes in Latin America and Asia, and noting that 'the system' has been adopted on our very own Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.

The Times article can be read here although you may need to be a Times subscriber to gain access.

There's also a leading article Trains, buses and sardines on page 28 of today's Times, viewable here.

Is the Guided Busway a good model for others to follow?

The Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market think tank, has today published a report with the provocative title Paving over the tracks: a better use of Britain’s railways? According to the report: "There is strong evidence that allowing some commuter railways to be converted into busways would provide higher capacity at lower cost, reduce fares for passengers and cut subsidies from taxpayers." Of course, there are many different "busway" models, and readers of this blog will doubtless be most interested to know what the report has to say about the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. In slightly fewer than 500 words, it makes clear that "a conventional toll road, priced and managed to avoid congestion, would almost certainly have delivered far greater economic benefits from converting the old rail beds". One of the report's main objections is to the "restrictive, bespoke infrastructure". What I can't find is an explanation as to why a toll road is used for comparison here when the remainder of the report seems to be making a case for other forms of dedicated busways (i.e. excluding other forms of road transport). In any case, it's surely better if you read the report for yourselves, rather than rely on me to summarise it accurately and fairly.

The report has received a degree of press coverage already - here, for example, are links to articles in the Independent (including fairly dismissive comments from the DoT and the Campaign for Better Transport) and the Cambridge News. A quick web search will throw up others.

Parking charges at St Ives and Longstanton park and ride sites (2)

A brief follow-up to Andrew's 11 Nov posting. Although the County Council approved the introduction of parking charges at these two sites in November, implementation still requires a Traffic Regulation Order. This was advertised in the Cambridge News on 19 December, and at its meeting next Tuesday the Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee will consider the officer's report on that stage of the process. The TRO generated just 5 objections/representations - they're included in the report, which can be found here. That document also sets out the proposed scale of charges, which the committee also needs to approve (basically: £1 per day, with season tickets offering discounts for regular users; more expensive for longer stays, with a maximum of 72 hours per stay).