Wednesday 26 July 2017

Smarter Cambridge Transport publishes major report on Busway defects

Many readers of this blog will know of Smarter Cambridge Transport (SCT), the initiative of an impartial group of local volunteers, who are developing and promoting a modern vision for integrated transport in Cambridge and the surrounding region. They have recently posted a major report, with accompanying commentary, on the Busway's defects. Actually, I'd go further than that - although the title of the report mentions only "defects", the report itself explores the whole long-term viability of the Busway, not just the immediate repairs which are required (and which are likely to be the subject of legal proceedings between the County Council and BAM Nuttall).

Here's just a short taster from SCT's blog post:

Smarter Cambridge Transport has prepared a detailed review of reports commissioned by the County Council. It identifies more than twenty areas of concern with the busway not identified in those reports. The council leader, Councillor Count, has indicated that two companies, Capita and Atkins, are continuing investigations and that our findings have have already been investigated. We cannot verify this until a new report or statement of claim is published.
Perhaps the most important question we pose is whether the problems are due in part not to construction defects, but to inherent design flaws that repairs alone cannot fix.
The review runs to 22 pages. For those who don't have the time or energy to read the whole thing (although it comes highly recommended for anyone interested in the future of the Busway), there's the usual Executive Summary. And the blog post which helped launch it also provides a useful (but different) summary.

Although the report was launched on 20 July, the version currently available from the SCT website (and to which the link below leads) is dated 26 July (the blog post was updated on that date as well). There's no indication as to what changes were made that I can find.

Here are the links you need:

Blog post:

Report (PDF):

According to the Cambridge News, the County Council "do not consider that [the SCT report] raises any new issues that need to be considered as part of our claim [against BAM Nuttall]." In addition, the council leader, Councillor Count, has indicated that twenty areas of concern with the busway listed by SCT as not having been identified by Capita's reports into the Busway's defects "have already been investigated". Smarter Cambridge Transport say they cannot verify this until a new report or statement of claim is published. Here's the link to that Cambridge News story.

[Declaration of interest: earlier this year I was asked to comment on an early version of the SCT report  - which I did. I have had no involvement with the report or its authors since then.]

Monday 24 July 2017

Cambridge - diversion to end of August

Busway route B services are being diverted Monday to Friday until the end of August in Cambridge city centre. The stops in Round Church Street and Jesus Lane are not being served and buses are being routed via Mitcham's Corner. No alternative stops are being provided, which means that the nearest stops are those on Castle Street and Drummer Street Bus Station.

At least that's the theory. One service (almost certainly the 1745 from Drummer St) was observed today on its normal route in Bridge Street.

There's nothing about this diversion on the County Council website.

Sunday 23 July 2017

Busway derailments - FoI request

In the three weeks following the 21 June derailment on the Busway south of Cambridge railway station, four Freedom of Information requests relating to various aspects of the Busway and its operation were submitted. I will attempt to track them and to provide more information as responses to these requests are posted.

First up in this mini-series is a request from Sam Webster, who asked the following of the County Council:
There have been a number of derailments on the guided busway. For each of these, could you please provide:
1. Date, time, location and type and operator of the bus
2. A brief description of any damage to the busway caused by the derailment
3. The cost of any repairs to the busway (a rough estimate is fine)
4. Copies of any reports compiled on the derailment
5. Details of any penalties applied to operators as a result of the derailment
6. Details of any changes made to the operation of the busway as a result of the derailment
The County Council's response details four such derailments:
A: 20/11/12 15:00 St Ives-bound guideway north of junction with B1050 at Longstanton Single decker bus operated by Stagecoach
B: 22/2/16 13:59 St Ives-bound guideway north of Trumpington cutting Single decker bus operated by Stagecoach
C: 7/7/16 07:33 Northern end of single guideway section in Trumpington cutting Single decker bus operated by Stagecoach
D: 21/6/17 15:47 Trumpington-bound guideway south of Hills Road bridge Single decker bus operated by Whippet Coaches
Reports were compiled on B and C - these have been in the public domain for some time. A report on D is currently in preparation. No report was ever produced on derailment A, even though the cost of repairs for that one (ca. £100,000) cost twice the anticipated combined totals of the three other incidents. No penalties have ever been imposed (although it's too soon to say what might happen regarding the most recent derailment).

Anyone wanting to read the full response - or to have a handy link to the two reports referred to - is advised to follow this link. The Cambridge News also picked up on this request - its story based on the information provided can be found here .

Thursday 13 July 2017

Fenstanton joins the Busway network

Not only is Fenstanton shortly to join the Busway network (a term I've just made up to describe the off-Busway services than continue to/from the Busway without the need to change buses...), but Whippet also plan to increase their "C" services (albeit by terminating in Cambridge City Centre and not serving the Railway Station - and omitting Somersham at the other end). Here's the full announcement from Whippet.

"Route C from 2 September 2017 We will be increasing the number of journeys between St Ives and Cambridge, Drummer Street Bus Station to provide a bus up to every 30 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays. Buses will continue to operate every hour on Sundays, but the gap at midday will be removed so the service is regular throughout the day.  Route C will no longer serve Cambridge Railway Station, Somersham or Hills Road/Ramsey Road in St Ives.  Some morning and afternoon journeys will start and finish at Fenstanton, providing residents with their first Busway service to Cambridge and a Sunday service."

This is part of a major shake-up of Whippet local bus services. Anyone interested in the "bigger picture" will want to read this announcement.

Fenstanton was, for a short while, served by a Stagecoach "feeder" bus to St Ives Park and Ride.

The new Whippet timetable for Fenstanton can be viewed at