Thursday 28 November 2019

Busway Consultation - improvements on the way!

[UPDATE 4 Dec: More information has been posted to the Stagecoach website since this post was first published. Follow this link. But note that no timetable data is available yet.]

Stagecoach have presented some of the results from the Busway Consultation carried out in the summer. Before reading on, please take a moment to note that what follows is (a) my interpretation of what I heard, read and saw at today's event, and (b) still subject to alteration. A start date for service changes haven't been announced - that's dependent on the reopening of the Busway between Histon and Orchard Park, delivery of sufficient new vehicles to operate the proposed service, driver training, and registration of revised routes and timetables with the Traffic Commissioners. (And that's not intended to be a comprehensive list, by the way!)

Stagecoach received over 2300 responses to the consultation; almost 30% from daily users, and over half from people who use the Busway to travel to work. The "top" stops for boarding are Longstanton and St Ives Park & Ride, whilst the top three destinations are Cambridge City Centre, the main railway station and the Biomedical Campus.

Some 18 new buses are expected (that's more than I was expecting - my understanding had been that the contract was for 12). These are large two-door vehicles - Volvo/Alexander Dennis Enviro E400 XLB buses, a model already in use in Edinburgh (and very nice they were too, when I travelled on a couple back in the spring).

Stagecoach are looking to simplify the Busway services, so all will run as either A or B (with the current plan to discontinue the D and R routes). The aim is to schedule a 5-minute frequency during peak times between St Ives and Cambridge. Improvements to some of the "regular road" services beyond this "core" can also be expected, such as extending more services to/from Godmanchester and Brampton, and maybe serving Alconbury Weald. Again, these are just examples; we'll have to wait for fuller details.

For operational reasons, between Histon and the City Centre the A will switch to operating the current B route, and vice versa (so the A will come into the city via Histon Road and Shire Hall, whilst the B will serve the Science Park and Cambridge North). Consequently, the much larger new buses will not operate in the Jesus Lane/Bridge St/Round Church St area.

Amongst other things, I believe this means direct services to the railway station from Orchard Park (now that the Orchard Park stops will be served by the A), which will be welcomed by some, for sure. At least some B journeys will run to/from the railway station.

The A will run to Trumpington P&R on Sundays for the first time. And there will be later services on the A on certain days (Thurs/Fri/Sat, perhaps?).

There were even freebies (as the pic attempts to show)! And it was a good opportunity to meet Stagecoach staff (and not only back-office folk, as there were also a couple of drivers present - a nice touch).

Busway Public Consultation Feedback Event Thurs 28th Nov

Swavesey Parish Council website published on 26th November that Stagecoach have a "Feedback Event" 

THURSDAY 28 November 2019  from 08:30 to 19:30  


The Tamburlaine Hotel Garden Room, Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2FB

This relates to the consultation which was mentioned on this blog in June.

Sorry for lack of notice!

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Christmas and New Year timetable alterations

Stagecoach have published their Christmas/New Year timetable alterations. Here.

Once again, though, there is no bus service on Boxing Day when many shops
in Cambridge are open.

New Busway vehicle spotted on test run

I don't quite know how/why, but the announcement that Stagecoach were ordering a dozen new vehicles for the Busway failed to make it to this blog. We clearly need more (and more observant) contributors!

Anyway, it won't be long before they here and in service.

Meanwhile, to whet your appetite - and to allow you to dream of slightly less overcrowding, especially during the morning and evening rush hours - the Transport UK YouTube channel has uploaded a video of one of the new vehicles on a test run passing Huntingdon Primary School earlier today.

The video was provided by someone called Luke (I have no more details), to whom we say "many thanks".

Haverhill via the southern Guided Busway?

At the same time as Orchard Park resident Barry sent in his post earlier this month on the effects of "temporary" diversions on services to his part of the city, he also passed on some thoughts relating to the possible use of the southern section of Guided Busway in any plans for a busway (guided or not) to Haverhill - a topic that's currently under consideration. Here's what Barry has to say:

It’s a little over a year since the guided busway services expanded to take on the failing service to Royston, which had been suffering death by a thousand cuts and had been reduced to an irregular service mainly from Trumpington P&R. As it’s still here it looks like it succeeded in revitalising the route, and is another Busway success. 
Regardless of other controversies, all the evidence is that a success of the guided busway is that services are able to support a higher frequency when they move to it; whether it’s St Ives to Cambridge, Trumpington P&R to the station, or now Royston. The southern guideway would do a really good job of moving passengers quickly from the City centre and the railway station to Addenbrooke’s and Babraham P&R or on to Haverhill. The busway only being able to take single decker buses and these routes currently served by double deckers is unfortunate, and some Haverhill passengers might miss the intermediate stops on the way through the city. But is it time the Busway got the opportunity to see if it could shine by attracting passengers to support an increased frequency on these routes too?

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Objects thrown at Busway vehicles

The BBC is reporting a spate attacks on the Busway last Monday evening (18 Nov), between Longstanton and Histon. What are described as "heavy objects" were thrown at four Stagecoach buses around 18.00. It would be surprising if a cyclist didn't see something, given that this is a busy time of the evening for commuters. If you have any information - or know anyone who does - please ensure it's passed on to the police. Fortunately, no injuries are reported. But on another occasion...?

Follow this link for the details as reported by the BBC.

Saturday 9 November 2019

Busway diversions sometimes benefit

I'm pleased to offer a guest post, from Barry, a resident of Orchard Park. He notes that the current (rather long-term) diversion of Busway services does bring benefits to some people, offering.journeys that the "normal" timetable simply doesn't, at present provide.

Barry writes:

The Guided Busway between Histon and the junction close to Orchard Park West is now to remain closed until January.  Stagecoach apologise for the disruption, and indeed it is bad news for most passengers on the traditional A & D routes, who have longer journey times as the buses divert through Orchard Park.

It’s also bad news for people wanting to go to most of Orchard Park in the evening; no buses go through the estate after 9pm and the stop on Histon Rd that the evening B services call at is a long walk from Orchard Park East.  It's also unfortunate for anyone in Orchard Park wanting a direct bus all the way to Huntingdon or Peterborough.

Overall however, Orchard Park wins handsomely from this, and when things go back to normal the service we’ve enjoyed since the summer will be sorely missed.  Not only has our rush hour service more than doubled from 4 buses an hour to 10 (even before you consider that the diverted B’s still aren’t that far from the Orchard Park West stop), but we now benefit from direct services to the Science Park, Cambridge North Station, Cambridge Station, Addenbrooke’s, Trumpington & beyond.  I’ve used the bus more in the last 5 months than in the previous 5 years since I moved here, as the convenience of the bus now beats cycling to the stations!

Users of the B also benefit from a more direct journey into Cambridge (though they are a bit more at risk of congestion above J32 of the A14).

With the changes having become at least a medium term thing it’s a shame that the last three evening Bs weren’t rerouted via the Science Park so that they could have served Orchard Park too; I feel that more people would have benefited from it serving all the other stops north of the city centre instead of Jesus Lane and Shire Hall (and they might have found out that in fact more people than they think work late at the Science Park!!!).  It might not have seemed worth arranging for the initial two weeks, but for six months (or maybe more???) it could have been.

Perhaps when services return to normal will also be a good time to look at the location of the Orchard Park East stop, which is located only a few yards round the corner from where it could have been served by more than twice as many buses.
Thanks to Barry for sharing his thoughts.

What do you think?

Tuesday 5 November 2019