Friday, 3 November 2017

Unauthorised vehicles on Busway

Readers of this blog, and/or of other local media, will be acquainted with the seemingly persistent problem of unauthorised vehicles finding their way onto the Busway (and usually, as a result, falling foul of the car traps). The County Council reports that there have been 71 incidents between the opening of the Busway and September of this year. This blog long since gave up bothering to report such incidents - there's only so much repetition that the average reader can cope with.

The Cambridge News recently had a crack at trying to determine how some motorists manage to get things so wrong, although its investigation seems to have focused only on potential sat-nav problems (or GPS applications, perhaps) at one specific junction. And using only Google Maps as the data source.

This seems to have started with a report from a News reader who "told the News they were using Google Maps on their Android phone to get to Cambridge Regional College yesterday evening (October 31), when the software appeared to direct them onto the guided busway." The News reporters' investigation tentatively concluded that the cause might lie in the map being set to "night mode", where the Busway isn't so clear on the display and the driver might be confused.

At this point I would recommend that you read the News report:

Perhaps sensing that the risk of adverse publicity for one of its products, Google was quick to undertake its own investigation. Google says that its maps are "routing correctly". Given how long the Busway has been operating, any other result would have been surprising! But Google didn't respond directly to the "night mode" issue, merely noting that they welcomed suggestions for improving their services.

And this is the point where I need to point you to the follow-up Cambridge News story which covers Google's response:

The News also posted a poll at the end of the first story. Its follow-up reveals that only 10% of those responding claimed that their sat-nav had confused the Busway with a public road. Actually, I'm not sure I should have written "10%" - we don't know how many individuals this represents, but if only a small proportion of that 10% were to slavishly follow their sat-navs, then...

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Timetable changes today (or tomorrow, in fact)

Stagecoach are making more changes to their Busway "B" service. In theory these impact only on the "regular road" section between Huntingdon and Peterborough, but it's possible there might be consequences for the Busway proper.

The B is to be rerouted via Stilton. To accommodate this, Peterborough services will leave Huntingdon 3 minutes earlier. And southbound services will generally leave Peterborough 5 minutes earlier. If this latter isn't sufficient to fit in the extra route mileage, then arrival at Huntingdon could be late, with consequences on the Huntingdon to Cambridge stretch. Only time will tell!

A revised timetable for the Huntingdon to Peterborough stretch is available for download here. The new times are also available from Traveline. The dedicated Busway pages on the County Council website seem unaware of either the route change or the amended timetable.

It's not 100% clear from either Stagecoach or Traveline if the Huntingdon/Peterborough service is continuing as a through service to/from Cambridge (there are a few runs that never have, of course). It seems unlikely that any change is planned in this regard, but until we have a new complete timetable for the whole Busway, it's impossible to be certain.

According to Stagecoach the changes come into effect today (29 October) - but there isn't a Sunday service on this stretch, so in practice they apply from 30 October.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Upcoming diversions

There are two sets of Busway diversions coming up soon.

The first one concerns only the "B" route and comes into effect tomorrow, Saturday 21 October. The Orchard Park East and West stops in both directions will be closed until 6pm on Sunday week. This will allow repairs at Iceni Way, Chariot Way, Chieftain Way and Graham Road to be carried out. The maintenance track will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists though. A replacement for the Orchard Park West stop will be provided at the regular bus stop on the Cambridge Road, just round the corner. Orchard Park East would-be passengers aren't quite so lucky. Presumably they will have to walk to the CRC.

The other diversion affects "A", "B" and "C" routes, and applies this coming Sunday, 22 October. It's caused by another road race. Route A services won't serve New Square until 1 pm. Passengers should go to Drummer St Bus Station (Bay 12) instead. Until 1 pm Route B services can't serve the stops from Castle Street (Shire Hall) through to New Square, in either direction. Additional stops are being made on Victoria Road (inbound) and Histon Road Grapes (outbound). Route C services aren't using the St Ives-bound New Square stop until 1 pm

The County Council announcement about these diversions doesn't even mention the Whippet service. And provides incorrect information about the "A" change. And incomplete information about the "B". The information in the preceding paragraph is based on information provided by the operators, whom I'm inclined to trust more than the County Council.

Finally, I feel like there should be a special prize to anyone who can explain why inbound C services still stop at New Square, but B services don't...

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Autonomous vehicle trial starts on Busway

I've decided to stick with Business Weekly's definition in the title for this posting. The Cambridge News prefers "driverless robot buses" (which begs the question as to how it would be defined if actually driven by a robot...). Whilst the BBC goes for "driverless bus 'pod'". As you can tell, even defining what it is that's being described isn't easy!

Simply because it seems to repeat a press release, I'll stick with Business Weekly (links to all of the sources referenced appear at the end of this posting).

It reports that the "RDM Group is utilising its existing driverless PodZero to complete feasibility studies ahead of the potential deployment of a number of 10-seater autonomous buses that will run between Trumpington Park and Ride and Cambridge Station, via the strategically important Cambridge Biomedical Campus (Addenbrooke’s) site." The idea being that a successful trial could lead to the introduction of an autonomous bus service after 8pm in the evening and during the weekends.

An RDM member of staff notes that the Trumpington to Cambridge section of the Busway is an ideal route as "it is segregated from the highway allowing the pods to whizz up and down without traffic congestion slowing them down and also segregated from pedestrians and cyclists meaning it is a really safe route."

I wonder whether that person has actually surveyed the route at the Cambridge end of this section? It was at precisely the point where buses and cyclists aren't segregated - at the end of the guided section near the Railway Station -  that an accident happened earlier in the summer.

Funding is being provided by Innovate UK, and delivered in partnership with Connecting Cambridgeshire and the Smart Cambridge Programme.

More at the following sources - although there's a good deal of overlap, since so much of the reporting is based on the initial press release:

Business Weekly:
Cambridge News:

I submitted a previous report at the time the funding  was first announced:

Friday, 13 October 2017

Le Busway

I was intrigued by this report of a Busway in Nantes, France. Unlike ours it is electric.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Guide wheel damage - FoI request

And yet another Freedom of Information request...

Sam Webster pickied up on the response to a previous FoI request. The latter had said, inter alia, that the "... considerable damage to the upstand further along the beam ... is consistent with damage caused to the guideway elsewhere on previous occasions where a guide wheel has sheared off". Sam wanted "counts, dates, locations and further descriptions of the 'previous occasions'".

The County Council, in its response, has provided information on two previous incidents. One, in November 2012, took place at the road crossing just north of Longstanton Parn & Ride site; the other was at Orchard Park in April 2013. In both cases the bus was incorrectly positioned in relation to the entry flare, resulting in the bus rolling and the guide wheel (or its arms) fouling the concrete upstands.

The first incident resulted in the driver's dismissal; the second in disciplinary proceeedings against the driver.

For the full FoI exchange, including more details on both incidents, follow this link:

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Timetable changes - busway services

Stagecoach have announced some timetable changes which affect services on the guided busway, starting from 17 September.

Busway A - The journeys on route A departing St Ives bus station at 0636/0706 Monday to Friday, returning from Hinchingbrooke Hospital at 1900 will be diverted to serve RAF Wyton and Houghton village. This is following the withdrawal of route 45 by Whippets Coaches. There is also a new journey from Boxworth into Cambridge (via St Ives and the Busway) Monday to Friday, departing Boxworth at 0644, serving Elsworth at 0649 and Hilton at 0657. The 1733 from Central Cambridge is extended to serve these villages.

Busway A/B/D - Journeys numbered D which operate via Cambridge North Station will no longer serve the station. These will now be renumbered route A. There are also changes to Sunday services beyond St. Ives. These journeys will depart 5 minutes later and arrive minutes later throughout.
Busway N - This service will continue to operate every 20 minutes into Cambridge first thing in the morning. Buses will now operate hourly throughout the day. This reduction is due to a lack of passengers using the service after the morning peak.
Busway R - Changes to early morning journeys in order to allow more time for passengers to connect with trains at Cambridge station following changes to the platform of London bound trains.

The new timetable can be viewed here:

The announcement from Stagecoach can be viewed here: