Friday 26 January 2018

Speed monitoring happens - but only in Trumpington

This is a follow-up to a January 4 post. I said at the end of that post: "I suspect Cllr O'Connell will be persisting with her questions." And that turned out to be an accurate assumption, because a few days later Cllr O'Connell asked the County Council to undertake an internal review of its handling of her original FoI request.

Well, the results of that review have now been posted - and have already been covered in the local media (I saw a piece on the late-evening Look East yesterday).

Two main points gave rise to Cllr O'Connell's request.

1. Non-disclosure of details relating to the portable camera. It turns out the reason for any non-disclosure is that the portable camera "has not yet been utilised". Readers with long memories - an interest in the Busway is assumed, of course! - will recall that the County Council acquired a speed gun (or "portable camera")  back in August, at a reported cost of £17,000 (covered in a post of 12 September). That's the one that hasn't been used since. (Although I think it was unpacked so that it could be demonstrated to the BBC, before being put back.)

2. Non-disclosure of data [about speeds recorded]. This relates to the information recorded from fixed cameras on the Trumpington stretch of the Busway. The County Council has now released this information.

The full exchange on this FoI request, including the records of speeds logged by the cameras, is at this URL.

Now, according to a BBC News report, "The council said the portable camera had not been needed because it had no evidence of speeding since fixed cameras were put on parts of the route." But this ignores the other places on the Busway where speed limits are applied and where there are no fixed cameras. And the whole Busway is subject to a maximum line speed, which means that the use of a portable device would be justified on any guided section (although it's clearly impossible to exceed the maximum speed in a number of places, even if one were to try).

The County Council spokesman also came out with this rather puzzling statement: "Since cameras were installed along the Trumpington route, we haven't recorded any evidence of speeding therefore the portable camera hasn't been needed." I've had more success trying to make sense of the relationship between the various films in the Star Wars franchise than I had with that! Apparently, if drivers observe the limit in the Trumpington section that means they're never going to speed anywhere else. Forgive me if I need to go and lie down whilst I work out the logic behind that.

Monday 15 January 2018

Cyclist attacked

During the late afternoon of January 4, a cyclist was attacked by a group of teenagers on the Busway cycle path, between Addenbrookes and the main railway station. His injuries required hospital treatment.

For more information, here's a link to the Cambridge News report, as well as one to the Mail Online.

Saturday 6 January 2018

"Grounds" maintenance

According to a report prepared for the County Council's Economy and Environment Committe, and due to be discussed at the next meeting of that committee on 11 January, the current contract for maintenance of the Busway "grounds" is due for renewal from October.

The existing contract - which also covers the county's Park & Ride sites, and which is let in partnership between the County and South Cambridgeshire District Council - was issued for 3 years in 2015. That shared contract allowed the number of contractors involved to be whittled down from four to just one. Overall savings of 6% were achieved as a result.

The Busway maintenance costs are covered by the access charges levied on bus operators.

One proposal to be considered by next week's meeting is that the new contract should run for 5 years. According to the report:
"This longer period may encourage contractors to offer greater savings to the overall contract and may also allow them to invest in bigger equipment such as tractor and flail type machinery to speed up certain aspects of grounds maintenance currently undertaken, especially along the Busway."
 Eagle-eyed readers will already have observed that there's no mention of improving the quality of the maintenance - so we've no reason to expect the issues of overhanging trees, or growth obstructing the maintenance track, to be alleviated as a consequence of any new contract. "Cheaper" and "faster" appear to be the Council's objectives.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Timetable changes, 7 January (or 8 January, to be more precise)

Stagecoach are introducing a few timetable changes to Busway services with effect from 7 January (although none of the changes actually seem to apply until Monday 8 January). Here are the details:
A new journey has been added at 0823 from Longstanton Park & Ride to Cambridge Rail Station. The 0702 journey from Hill Rise will start at 0625 at Somersham, and will serve Colne, Earith, Bluntisham and Needingworth.
Also, the 0745 Route N from Cambridge will now terminate at Longstanton Park & Ride (M-F).

And here's a link to the revised timetable.

Speed monitoring - FoI request reveals all (or not much?)

There have been a number of posts on this blog in recent months cncerning traffic speeds on the Busway (too many for me to bother to post all the links here). And here's another one!

Cllr Zoe O'Connell - picking up on earlier developments regarding the monitoring of speed along the Busway - recently submitted an FoI request to Cambridgeshire County Council. She asked:
Please can you provide any records of speed monitoring carried out on the Guided Busway by the county council using the speed monitoring device purchased in August or September of this year.
If possible, please can you include:
1) The date, time and location of any monitoring activities
2) The speed limit at that location
3) The speeds of any vehicles obtained.
4) Any follow up action by the council.
Now,  the request is slightly ambiguous because it relies on her understanding of the "speed monitoring device" being the same as the County Council's. (For what it's worth, I thought she was referring to a portable device covered in my December 5 blog post.)

The County's response has now been posted. It's brief, and doesn't reveal very much!
We have a portable camera we use to monitor speed on the Guided Busway. The only fixed camera we have at present is along the Trumpington single track section. The monitoring here is constant between 05:00 and 21:00 Monday to Saturday (whilst buses are running)

We capture anything that travels over 20 mph (to rule out cyclists etc).

Details of any bus travelling over 33 mph (limit plus 10%) will be sent to the relevant bus operator. The first block of information will be sent during January 2018. The Speed indicator device has been in place since November and during this time the device has been tested and calibrated to provide us with the accurate data that we require.
The County's response fails to provide any information at all about the use to which the portable camera has been put (why? Isn't that part of the point of the original FoI request?). And the fixed camera is too new for there to be any results to report.

So we're not much the wiser at this point!

I suspect Cllr O'Connell will be persisting with her questions.

If you want to look at the full exchange, follow this link.