Friday, 9 March 2018

Busway diversions - weekends in March

Details have now been posted of this month's weekend diversions on the Busway.

In summary:

9-10 March: Between Longstanton and Oakington. But no changes to the stops served.
17-18 March: Between Histon and Milton Road, and with changes to pick up and set down locations
24-25 March: Between Histon and Milton Road, and with changes to pick up and set down locations

The maintenance track remains open at all times.

All services are affected. It's reasonable to assume that these diversions will involve extended journey times around the blockages, but as there's no mention of them on either the Stagecoach or Whippet websites, there's no further information about these. Unlike engineering works on the railways, the bus companies never issue revised timetables, so if you need to be somewhere at a specific time (a railway station, for example!), you're left to do the calculations yourself.

Further details are now available (at rather short notice) on the County Council website.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Autonomous vehicles - £3.2m awarded for trial

This follows up my 17 October 2017 posting, and again uses information from Business Weekly (not, I admit, my go-to publication for Cambridge news...).

The government has recently announced awards totalling £22.4m to 22 connected and autonomous vehicle (CAVs) R&D projects, of which £3.2m is coming to Cambridge. This money will be used to build and trial six 10-15-seater self-driving shuttles to operate on the southern (Trumpington) section of the existing guided busway, initially for an out-of-hours service, when ordinary buses aren’t running.

The details are a little vague - at least in the published reports. Although one of the strengths of this section of the busway is - for the purposes of a trial - that it is segregated from general traffic, the trial is supposed to serve the Biomedical Campus, where busway vehicles share road space with hoi polloi. And emergency vehicles.

Prototypes are due to be tested in late summer 2019, with the first paying passengers boarding a year later. It's unclear if the first few months of public service are part of the trial (in which case funding is already guaranteed) or are to be part of the County Council's "transport" portfolio.

The vehicles will be developed by Aurrigo, part of the RDM Group. This follows the same company's involvement in the earlier trial using a 4-seater autonomous "pod".

Free parking to be reinstated next month

Ever since it was introduced in May 2015 - no, let's be honest, it was an issue from the moment it was first announced - the parking charge at the Busway Park & Ride sites has proved controversial. There are many who felt it was counter-productive, hostile to the idea that the County Council should be encouraging people out of their cars and onto public transport.

At last - but in no small measure due to the existence of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, perhaps (it has money!) - the charge is to be removed, and free parking reinstated. This is due to happen on 1 April, and is presumably no April Fool.

The Cambridge Network has more details. Apparently,  according to one prominent councillor: "the removal of the £1 parking fee [is] a positive move to continue to make the Park & Ride the first transport choice for people coming into the city." Some might ask why this argument wasn't more energetically made at the time of the charge's introduction.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Cambridge Half Marathon - Sunday 4th March

Stagecoach has published an update on itsCambridge bus routes, many of which will be diverted on Sunday 4th March, due to road closures for the Cambridge Half Marathon.

 Bus B will be unable to serve Shire Hall, Jesus Lane/Round Church Street and New Square befor 1pm.
Towards St. Ives buses will serve the first stop on Histon Road (The Grapes). Customers in Central Cambridge should use Drummer Street bay 12. Towards Cambridge buses will serve the first stop on Victoria Road instead of Shire Hall

Whippet bus route C will also be diverted. See

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Busway diversions - weekends in February

A series of closures of the Busway has been announced for February. Details are as follows:

3/4 February - Fen Drayton Lakes Stop - Buses will be unable to serve this stop - No Alternative is avaliable
10/11 February - Swavesey - To be confirmed
17/18 February - Longstanton - Delays of 10-15 minutes - No stops missed
Further closures are expected, and details will be avaliable in due course
Apologies for the late notification.

One of the County Council's news releases (there were two, posted in different places) on this weekend's closure - and one which only went out on 3 February - refers to the "request stop Holywell Ferry" [sic]. Curiously, the corresponding announcement on the Busway web pages refers to it by its correct name. Puzzling.

The next two closures/diversions have yet to be confirmed by the County Council - so should, I guess, be marked "subject to alteration".

UPDATED 8 February: The County Council has now published its plans for the remainder of the month - and provided an explanation as to why the work is being carried out. Here's that information:

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.