Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas floods on the busway

Merry Christmas to all readers of the busway blog!

It's not such merry news for those of us who cycle the busway. I walked along the busway between the gravadlax and the turkey early this afternoon, and the Great Ouse River is in flood. Water is now covering the busway cycle track at the concrete bridge a short distance east of the Ouse Viaduct. I was a bit surprised to see that the water is flowing through that concrete bridge from north-east to south-west ( that's left to right on the first photo, and right to left on the second).



I'll keep checking the water levels over the next few days and post details on the blog.

Boxing Day update - the big dip between St Ives Park & Ride and the Ouse Viaduct is now under water, and the flooded section beyond the viaduct has extended both directions from the concrete bridge. So probably 400 metres of the cycle track under water.




Update - 7 January.
This photo shows the flooded cycle track between Fen Drayton and Swavesey.


Update 9 January.

I walked along Low Road towards Fenstanton this afternoon and here is the state of the road at Crystal Lakes. Although the road is 'closed' several cars drove through the flood apparently without difficulty and a cyclist made it through.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Concessionary bus passes on guided busway

There are two rather alarming letters in this week's Huntingdon & St Ives News & Crier (19 December, page 6). The letter writers, who both contacted the paper by email, seem to believe that Cambridgeshire County Council wants to end the use of concessionary bus passes on busway and park & ride services.

It is not clear where they have got their suspicions from unless it is the minutes of the Council's Enterprise Growth and Community Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Committee's  meeting held on 7 December. In the minutes there is a clarification that 'concessionary fares only applied to ‘standard’ bus services, not for ones with additional services like parking, toilets, etc.  The Guided Busway was seen as a ‘standard’ service in this respect, as it could be caught from normal bus stops with no parking or additional services.'

In reality, of course, the Park & Ride services can also be caught from certain ordinary bus stops, and in my experience, if you start your journey from the city centre, you get charged the regular single journey or day ticket price for Cambridge, not the reduced Park & Ride fare. Park & Ride service serve a limited range of bus stops during the day, but after 6.30pm appear to serve all stops on their respective routes, which might seem to imply that they are 'standard' bus services. Information about Park & Ride services, including ticket validity is at this page.

See an earlier blog post for a further comment relating to this topic here.

The Council committee minutes are here .




Mitcham's Corner bus cut-through

Cambridgeshire County Council is planning to create a 'cut-through' for buses at Mitcham's Corner. This will speed up buses travelling from Victoria Avenue to Milton Road and Chesterton Road by 30 seconds, and will benefit Busway routes A and C. The cost of £97,000 is part of a £5.2 million Government-funded scheme to improve bus transport in Cambridge and is supported by the bus companies.

See Cambridge News here.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Cambridge Science Park rail station approved

Cambridgeshire County Council has approved the planning application for the new railway station at Chesterton serving the north of the city.

This will involve an extension to the guided busway.

Several details of the scheme are causing concern, including the safety of proposed cycle lanes.

More information here.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas and New Year bus services

Changes to busway timetables for Stagecoach buses during the festive season  are as follows :


Christmas Eve - Services finish early*
Christmas Day & Boxing Day - No service
Friday 27th & Saturday 28th December - Saturday service 
Sunday 29th December - Sunday service
Monday 30th December - Saturday service
New Year’s Eve - Saturday service*
New Year’s Day - No service
Normal service resumes on Thursday 2nd January 2014

*Last buses on Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve will be:
Route A: 2012 - Trumpington park&ride to Central Cambridge
Route A: 2038 - Central Cambridge to St. Ives Hill Rise
Route B: 1833 - Huntingdon to Central Cambridge
Route B: 1920 - Peterborough to Huntingdon (does not continue to Cambridge)
Route B: 2020 - Peterborough to Huntingdon (does not continue to Cambridge)

More details, including other Stagecoach services in Cambridgeshire can be viewed here.

Whippet's timetable alterations are:

25/26 Dec 1Jan - No service

27 Dec amended Saturday timetable 

28 Dec Saturday timetable

29 Sunday service

30/31 amended Saturday timetable


See Whippet website here. However, there doesn't seem to be any detailed information about what the 'amended' Saturday timetable is for 27, 30 and 31 December.

Busway extension to Science Park Station

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has visited Cambridge to announce spending of £6million for the new Cambridge Science Park railway station at Chesterton, including extension of the guided busway to the station.

Mr Clegg also signed a 'memorandum of understanding' which would allow Cambridge to keep a  bigger share of tax revenues raised locally with over £1 billion to be spent on housing and transport projects. The local authorities have pledged to explore the possibility of an underground bus or rail system for Cambridge




To read full story click here and here.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Delays to busway services

Regular users of the busway will be aware that the buses don't run every 7-8 minutes as they are supposed to. A whole lot of delays occur, usually as a result of road conditions  elsewhere.

There is a good example in this week's Hunts Post (11 December, page 11). It's about parked cars blocking Cowper Road, Huntingdon, a small residential street that, because of Huntingdon's one-way street system forms part of the westbound Busway B route. The photo shows 4 Bs waiting to get through. That's an hour's worth of buses! OK, they're westbound, but that means their return journeys towards Cambridge will subsequently be delayed.


Saturday, 7 December 2013

Parking charges at Busway sites?

There's been a lot of noise in the local media about the County Council's plans to charge users of the Cambridge City Park & Ride sites for parking (in addition, of course, to the bus fares they need to pay to ferry them into town and back). What I'd missed until this morning was that the same Council meeting had also, in principle, agreed to back the imposition of charges for parking at the Busway P&R St Ives and Longstanton sites from 2015/16.

Almost inevitably, Stagecoach's Andy Campbell has something to say about this (well, there's a potential loss of revenue = profits for his company) - and, equally inevitably, the Cambridge News has used this as the basis of a story. See here for the CN news item.

The County Council documents, meanwhile, are to be found on the rather dull-sounding "Enterprise, Growth and Community Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Committee" web pages - follow this link for the specific agenda item relating to this. The proposal first appears in Appendix A, and is budgeted to raise £120K in 2015/16. (There are other Busway-related entries in these Business Plan papers which might well repay closer attention, if only I knew how to interpret them!)

The Council's Press Release didn't go into details, so I'm allowing myself to forgive me for missing this amongst all of the paperwork. And it's worth noting that the final decision hasn't actually been made - that's up to a meeting of the full Council in February.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Busway extension to Chesterton Station - traffic conflicts

Cycling campaigners and local residents in the vicinity of the new Cambridge Science Park Station have highlighted potential traffic conflicts between the busway extension to the station and lorry traffic to/from the Nuffield Road industrial estate. They are proposing that Nuffield Road traders be given a direct link to Milton Road.

Details at Cambridge News here.

Monday, 2 December 2013

New Cycleways

Cambridgeshire County Council have published details on their website of new cycleways - planned very soon. Two likely to be of interest to readers of this blog are:

The A1096 St Ives: Foot and cycleway will run along the St Ives A1096 bypass from the Meadow Lane junction to St Ives Business park. This will connect to the busway via existing cycleway along Meadow Lane and the Park & Ride site. Construction is expected to start this month, and be completed by end of February!

In Swavesey, the Swavesey to Buckingway Business Park Cycleway will run from the south end of the village to Buckingway Business park, and extend over the existing A14 flyover to the roundabout at Cambridge Services. Construction is expected to start in February and be completed June 2014.

Both will have 2.5m wide track (where possible), separated from the road by a 1m grass verge.

Further afield, Other cycleways also planned are Wandlebury to Babrham Research Park and A505 to Granta Park.

The last 3 here are "being funded by Cambridgeshire County Council's successful bid this summer to the Department for Transport for £4.1m from the Cycle City Ambition Fund."


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

'Talking buses' trial survey

Stagecoach East are in the process of gaining feedback from their busway passengers regarding 'audio stop announcements' at each bus stop.

As noted in an earlier posting on this blog, Stagecoach have also been introducing visual stop information on routes A and B. The survey is seeking passengers' opinions on 'visual stop display' too.

If you complete a survey form and provide your name and contact details, you'll be entered into a prize draw to win up to a month's free travel.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Diversion Tuesday 12 November evening and overnight

Bridge Street in Cambridge will be closed to traffic from 20.30 on Tuesday 12 November until 06.00 on Wednesday 13 November. Buses will not be able to call at Round Church Street and Jesus Lane, and will be diverted via Victoria Avenue.


Assault on busway

I think the Cambridge News headline (online version) says it all:

Angry pensioner tips bag of dog poo over Cambridge University lecturer for 'cycling too close to her' by guided busway

Read all about it!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Busway construction starts in Leigh

Construction work has recently begun on another guided busway project - this one in Leigh, between Manchester and Wigan. The guided section will be just 4.5 miles, and forms part of a much larger "bus priority" scheme in the Manchester area.

As with most of the Cambridge and Luton busways, the guided section is on an old railway alignment; this one sits on the trackbed between East Bond Street in Leigh and Newearth Road in Ellenbrook.

More information about the project can be found here. And there's the inevitable press release.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Busway neglect - latest photos of debris

This week I've been in contact with my two local County Councillors about the dire state of the cycle track, especially between St Ives and Fen Drayton.

There is a lot of tree debris lying on the track, made worse by the recent gales. In the last  few days, a Council maintenance team has been working on the track. They've strimmed the verges for about 300 metres either side of the Ouse Viaduct, and have left the track covered in even more debris, including chopped up bits of bramble (puncture hazard!). The solar lights are still covered by vegetation encroaching from the verges,  and now also with strimmed debris.

Here are a couple of photos showing the state of the track BEFORE the Council team has worked on it.




And here are some taken AFTER the team has done its not very good work.





Photo below was taken on 18 November, after the maintenance team had cleared away vegetation around the lights. Note that they haven't cut the entire verge back, just a small patch at each light. Most likely the leaves and debris will soon encroach on the lights again.


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Bus driver rescues sheep

Good story in the Cambridge News about a busway driver stopping to free a sheep that was caught n some brambles. View article here.

Busway passes 6 million

The busway has now carried over 6 million passengers since it opened in 2011.

The Cambridge news quotes Councillor Ian Bates as saying, in effect, that the busway means you don't have to worry about traffic on the A14 and A428. If only that were true!  Has he never travelled on the busway when A14 gridlock has caused gridlock in Huntingdon and St Ives, with knock on effects on buses?

The busway does offer consistent times on the busway section, but off-busway conditions frequently cause problems.

Peter Lee of Whippet is calling for more segregated routes within Cambridge.

Cllr Bates also talks about providing other busway routes in the area, specifically links to the new Alconbury development.

View article here.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Whippet timetable irregularities

Yesterday I decided to catch the 0930 Whippet from St Ives Park & Ride to Cambridge Railway Station. This is shown quite clearly on the busway website timetable here as running to the Station, arriving at 10.09 - in time for me to catch the 10.15 train to London. on boarding the bus the driver told me the bus only goes as far as Drummer Street. When I queried this he told me that the bus has never gone to the railway station.

On that bus were some Whippet busway timetable leaflets 'effective from Monday 9th September 2013' - these leaflets show the bus as running to the railway station.

Whippet's online timetable, however, conflicts with their printed timetable.

So can I appeal to Whippet to get their information right?

I wasn't the only person wanting to use that bus to get to the station. Another passenger tried to board at Longstanton and was effectively turned away by the driver.

Bonfire night diversions to busway services


Cambridge's annual firework display takes place on Tuesday 5 November on Midsummer Common. This necessitates some temporary road closures and changes to bus route A, B and C between 6.30 and 8.30pm.

During this closure busway services will not serve the inbound stop (i.e. towards Cambridge) in Roundchurch St and both the stops in both directions at New Square.  Passengers wishing to travel from New Square should use Drummer Street as an alternative for routes A, B and C. 

Map of changes on Cambridge City Council website here.

Busway website gives information here and Stagecoach here

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Impressions of the Luton-Dunstable guided busway

Yesterday, along with Hugh Taylor who also contributes to this blog, I visited the Luton-Dunstable busway.

It is a very different beast from the Cambridgeshire busway, running almost entirely through an urban setting, and it has both steep gradients and frequent curves.

The busway follows the line of a former railway linking Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Harpenden, Luton and Dunstable. For a map of the busway click here.

We started from outside Luton Station where a series of bus stops effectively forms a mini bus station. It wasn't well signed though. We had to hunt around to find which stop our bus ran from.  On a wet, windy winter's day, the 'bus station' would be a bleak place. I got the impression that most of the buses serving central Luton run to/from stops in Church Street about half a mile away and there doesn't seem to be a policy of encouraging all bus services to go to the railway station.



We boarded an Arriva service A, a high quality single decker with a substantial luggage rack - essential as this route serves Luton Airport, and is the principal link between the Airport and Luton Station.



The bus drops down to a flat crossing of Guildford Street, then climbs steeply to what I imagine must be the former railway trackbed. It runs parallel to a road, Hatter's Way, passing Clifton Road and Stanton Road busway stops. The bus rarely reached its maximum running speed of 50mph because of frequent speed restrictions e.g. for footpath crossings and side turnings. As with the Cambridgeshire busway there are frequent breaks in the guide rails requiring buses to slow down. Approaching Dunstable, the busway passes an area of open countryside on the left. The busway crosses the A505 on a bridge, and after about 200 metres, the bus veers off the busway and performs a slow loop around Dunstable Town Centre on roads with many tight bends. The bus then returns to the busway, climbing up a steep slip road with a 5-metre guided section half way up. This loop costs about 7 minutes of running time. Our bus then turned left, retracing part of its earlier route, before continuing straight on at the White Lion Retail Park. The busway next follows the former freight branch railway that ran into the cement works. Close to Portland Ride stop, the busway reverts to bus-only road, with no guide rails. The route ends in the Townsend Industrial Estate by merging into the narrow and congested Blackburn Road. A sharp left, then a sharp right, took the bus out onto Houghton Regis High Street.

Part of our return journey was on a service E provided by Centrebus. Not such a comfortable vehicle - hard seats, a bit rattly and with a noisy engine.

Later we travelled out on the Airport route (service A). Contrary to the map , the section east of Luton Station Interchange is a bus-only road, with no guide rails. There is no convenient stop for Luton Airport Parkway, and most of this end of the route uses ordinary roads with occasional stretches of bus lane.

The Luton busway has a cycle track along side most of its length. It has a gravel surface, so not good for bicycles. The gates would be very difficult to maneouvre a bike through  - you'd have to twist the handlbars.


On the plus side, the cycle track is fenced off from the busway presumably for safety reasons.


Hardly surpising, there were very very few cyclists on the cycle track.

The entrance to the busway at Blackburn Road has no pavement, so any pedestrians would be forced out on the roadway.


The next three photos show some of the design features of a typical Luton Busway stop (Portland Ride).




There are no ticket machines (you buy from the driver). Live bus information isn't too obvious. At Portland Ride, it appeared above the map seen in the middle photo, but I couldn't get a photo of it due to light reflection.

At off-busway stops (e.g. Morrison's) timetable information was a bit patchy - not presented in an integrated way, just a series of small timetable posters stuck there by the different bus companies.

Regarding engineering, I noticed that bus vibrated much more rapidly than on the Cambridgeshire busway. This was due to the concrete track elements being shorter than on the Cambridgeshire busway. Transverse track beams were not visible.  This image shows what they are like underneath a covering of ballast, earth/grass.

What services run on the Luton Busway? Three bus companies provide the services. Link to timetable details here.

Arriva run route A between Luton Airport, Dunstable and Parkside. mostly on a 15-minute interval, hourly in the evening and on Sundays. Extra shuttle trips run between Luton Station and the Airport right through the night. Centrebus run the B ( Luton Station to Dunstable and Downside) and E ( Galaxy to Toddington bypassing Dunstable). Grant Palmer's  C links Luton Station to Dunstable and Beecroft.

A bit complicated for visitors to Luton, especially with buses looping around Dunstable town centre.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A14 upgrade and the Busway

Today's County Council Cabinet meeting also considered the Council's response to the Highways Agency consultation on the A14 upgrade. Buried in the paperwork for this agenda item was the following paragraph:
There is a need to complete an unsigned 2010 agreement with the HA to protect the integrity of Guided Busway services during modifications to the A14 over bridge on the Cambridge Northern Bypass and it is proposed that this be flagged up in the consultation response.
My understanding of this is that there is no statutory protection for the Busway when it passes under a road bridge, in the way that exists for rail lines. So the County Council has to negotiate with the Highways Agency to ensure that work - as and when it's carried out - doesn't prevent Busway services from running. If anyone has a clearer, more informed understanding of the situation, please add a comment.

Terms of reference for independent review of Busway approved

Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet today approved the terms of reference for an independent review of the Busway "fiasco". But not before concerns were expressed by some councillors. The Cambridge News has the story.

For the actual terms of reference, and some background to the review, go to the County Council website.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Busway neglect - ticket machines

The ticket machines on the west bound platforms at Histon and Swavesey have been out of order and boarded up for months.

Is the County Council doing anything about them? Are they going to be repaired or replaced?

Histon ticket machine

Swavesey ticket machine


Friday, 25 October 2013

Satnav problems

Anther truck has been driven onto the busway at Longstanton due, apparently, to a satnav error. A photo of the incident appears in a Cambridge News article here.

Work on busway track at Histon

Yesterday there was a 10mph speed restriction near Histon for part of the day. A team of workmen appeared to be surveying the section of track affected by settlement.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

St Ives Morrison's

There is a hint in this week's Hunts Post ( 23 October, page 24) that Whippet is planning to divert its busway route C.

A new Morrison's store that is planned for the eastern edge of St Ives close to the Marsh Harrier pub/restaurant. The article suggests that the store will be served by six buses an hour, with services 12 and  C diverted. The C currently does a loop around north-west St Ives serving Hill Rise and Ramsey Road.

Read article here.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Developers threaten guided busway cash

Brookgate, the major player in redevelopment of the area around Cambridge Railway Station, appears to be disputing its commitment to make financial contributions towards the guided busway and other transport initiatives, claiming that new legislation means it doesn't have to honour commitments agreed when it got permission for the CB1 development.

Of £2.4 million at stake, around £2.1 million relates to the busway. Brookgate argues that, as the busway has already been built, its contributions are no longer needed.

Read full article at Cambridge News.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Chaos on busway

Bus services on the busway were not running according to timetable this morning, presumably as a result of accidents on the A14 and M11.

There is a report about the accidents here.

Travelling from Cambridge to St Ives about 12 noon, I had to wait 25 minutes at New Square before a bus to St Ives appeared (an A). In all that time I did not see a B or a C going in the St Ives direction. While I was waiting, there were no buses heading in the opposite direction either.

Any other busway users affected by this disruption?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Car stuck on guided busway

A car  got stuck on the busway  at King's Hedges this morning causing delays to bus services, according to the Cambridge News.

The article also reveals statistics of other incidents of cars driving onto the busway - 20 in the last six months, of which 18 were at St Ives.

At a recent Cambridgeshire County Council meeting it was revealed that Stagecoach's insurance company had paid £91,263 to the Council following a bus crash at Longstanon in November 2012.

Access charges paid by Stagecoach and Whippet for use of the busway amounted to £597,734 last year, up from £349, 572 the previous year.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Michaelmas Fair in St Ives

This year, for the first time, bus traffic in St Ives was not plunged into chaos by the  Michaelmas Fair.

The Fair takes over the main market square in St Ives and in past years the regular Monday Market has been moved out onto the bus station. As a result buses have had to use a very inadequate bus stop in The Quadrant, with all the ensuing inconvenience for bus passengers, gridlock and delays.

This year was different. The Monday Market (well, a small remnant of it) could be found in a corner of the car park between the bus station and Waitrose.

And buses were running as normal, via the bus station and Station Road.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Busway faults

Cambridgeshire County Council is having to consider how to remedy a number of serious faults with the guided busway.

Some relate to shrinkage and heavage of clay affecting the foundation of the busway. Others concern dropping of the end of the concrete beams.

BAM Nuttall is said to have rectified a fault that required buses to slow to 5mph at Histon in the summer.

But regular travellers on the busway will be aware that buses still traverse some bad sections of track  a short distance east of Histon.

Read Cambridge News article here.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Neglected Busway - Stud Lights

When the studlights were installed along the cycle track, the Cambridge News reported "Solar studs to light the busway bridleway"

Part way down it says:

Cllr Ian Bates, the cabinet member for growth and planning, said:  ........
“Solar studs will provide a trail route for users to follow while having no ongoing cost for the council.

Maybe they thought no maintenance would be required?

Tonight I took a photo at low point between St Ives Park & Ride and the Ouse viaduct, about 20 minutes after sunset. (Hence grainy - I have lightened it so it can be seen)

Approach to Ouse Viaduct   04/10/2013 18:53
The reason:  None of the 5-10 pairs of studlights - which were all on - were visible due to the overgrown vegetation.

With no spend on maintenance, the studlights are useless here.

Last week I reported to Cambridgeshire County Council several maintenance issues on the cycle track - including hidden stud lights, and a point just west of Covells drain where the 3.1m wide path is reduced to 1.4m because of overhanging vegetation. 
Track reduced to 1.4m wide

Track progress here. Currently says Cambridgeshire County Council not responsible - it has been referred on to ..."the appropriate party"...


Separately, I have reported to Cambridgeshire County Council the overgrown approach to the A1096 crossing between the Park & Ride site and St Ives town centre. Getting very difficult for 2 cyclists to pass. Track progress here. Currently says : We recognise that your reported fault needs addressing, and the work has been scheduled to be undertaken at the earliest opportunity.

Approach to A1096 Crossing - 20 Sep 2013


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Neglected busway - another comment

Another letter has appeared in the Hunts Post (2 October, page 7) in response to the letter last week about lack of maintenance of the busway.

The writer, a resident of Brampton, notes that the busway is starting to resemble to railway it replaced, that the approaches to Cambridge are defaced by graffiti, and that many of the recently planted trees are leaning over or have lost their protective sleeves.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Rail link more attractive than Luton to Dunstable guided busway

Norman Baker, the transport minister, is reported as having said that reopening the Luton to Dunstable railway would have been 'more attractive than the busway'. But that wasn't a choice he faced when asked for funding. Nevertheless, he thinks the busway will be good for the economy of Luton.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-24224674

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

More about Cambridgeshire County Council's dispute with BAM Nuttall

A long letter in this week's Hunts Post (25 September, page 7) explores why the County Council's contract with BAM Nuttall may have gone wrong. There letter explores the variety of ways in which such contracts may be organised depending on circumstances. The punch line of the letter is that someone (or persons) in the Council made a mistake that was to the detriment of the Council's finances, and that person should be held to account. Read the letter here.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Luton Dunstable Busway opening

The official opening of the Luton-Dunstable guided busway took place today. The opening was performed by Councillor Nigel Young and Secretary for Transport Norman Baker.

Public bus services start running on the busway tomorrow (25 September).

Read Luton Today article here.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Busway neglect

In this week's Hunts Post  (18 September, page 6) is a letter from a St Ives residence.

He suggest that the County Council is neglecting the busway, that the platforms at bus stops are overgrown with weeds, that several ticket machines are out of order, and that off-peak few people are using the buses.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

How has the guided busway affected traffic on the A14?

It seems that there is no agreement about what the recently published statistics for usage of the A14 mean and why they have declined.

West of Huntingdon, where the A14 doesn't parallel the busway, the decline has been greatest (5%). Maybe that is due to dualling of the A421 between bedford and the M1.

At Fen Drayton, traffic fell by 2.7%, or 2526 vehicles.But Councillor Mike Mason, thinks it's due to the decline in economic activity.

Read about this on the Cambridge News website here.



Friday, 13 September 2013

New busway timetable booklet

Today I picked up a copy of the latest Cambridgeshire busway timetable dated to start from 9 September 2013. This is published by Cambridgeshire County Council.

There don't seem to be many alterations as compared with the previous timetable issued in December last year. But I suggest that you check out your regular journeys before travelling.

But beware - there are a few printing errors on pages 20 and 21 - the timetable for Whippet's routes C and D, plus Stagecoach's A journeys that start from Chatteris, Ramsey and Somersham. The 0731 C from Somersham and the 0802 C from Hill Rise are shown as calling at Histon Road/Akeman Street AND Milton Road/Union Lane They are then shown as not calling at Drummer Street and terminating at Regent Street rather than the Railway Station. The following four C journeys are shown as not serving that rail station and terminating at Addenbrooke's Outpatients.

A footnote on this page mentions that the 0720 from Somersham contiues to Long Road College. In fact, there is no bus leaving Somersham at 0720. This note actually refers to the 0725 from Somersham The Trundle and 0731 from Somersham Cross.

The correct times are given on the large sheet timetables at bus stops and  presumably also on the Whippet website here.

In the reverse direction the 1725 Whippet from Drummer Street is shown on page 24 as a C travelling via Histon Road. However, the Whippet website shows this service as a C via Milton Road.

Not sure I can even trust the timetable that appears here on the official busway website. It gets the 1725 C wrong.

There are a couple of other oddities with this timetable leaflet that I'd like to mention.

First, the map on pages 6-7 doesn't show the bus stop at Houghton Road, served by both A and B services, and shown on the maps that appear at bus stops. It's a potentially useful changing point for passengers from Ramsey Road to Huntingdon.

Second, on page 35 is a map showing the bus stops in St Ives.  Why isn't the bus stop at the start of Houghton Road just round the corner from the Seven Wives not shown? Buses on route B certainly stop there.

And lastly, the map on page 35 shows the Whippet C running along Chestnut Road. Several times I've seen the C turning off Ramsey Road along Houghton Road. Is this Whippet drivers doing unofficial variations from the route? Has any reader of this blog used that section of the C route?


On-bus information

I travelled in to Cambridge this morning on a Stagecoach A. This vehicle had a small electronic information screen mounted on the wall behind the driver giving the time, and details of what stop the bus was at or where it would be calling next. Its the first time I'd seen such a feature and I'm guessing that Stagecoach will be rolling this out to all their busway buses in due course. A very useful addition to Stagecoach's already good buses, and particularly helpful to passengers who are not familiar with the bus routes.


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Parking charges at Cambridge Park and Ride sites

News that motorists are to be charged £1 to park in addition to their Park & Ride bus fares has been released. How this will affect Busway passengers remains to be seen. Busway route A serves Trumpington Park & Ride, but the slow detour of this bus route around the Addenbrooke's Hospital campus makes it a poor choice for people wanting to travel into Cambridge city centre. It seems that the County Council wishes to reduce the Park & Ride's  £1 million deficit, and they are hoping to raise money from people who park then cycle or walk.

Read Cambridge News article here.

Autumn fruits

The Busway is proving to be a great resource for blackberry pickers. See Cambridge News article which includes a photo of a bus passing a picker here.

There are also a few apples trees along the route (apple cores thrown out of passing trains  more than 40 years ago?) and even the odd plum tree.

Apple tree beside the busway near Oakington

BAM Nuttall dispute in Hunts Post

Two letters in this week's Hunts Post  (11 September, page 6) about the County Council's dispute with BAM Nuttall over the building of the busway.

One suggest that the County Council has misled the public over the matter, and the other talks about the overrun of costs falling as a burden on the taxpayer.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Luton-Dunstable busway opening date

The guided busway between Luton and Dunstable is due to open on 25th September. See article on BBC website here.

Like the Cambridgeshire busway, this has been built by NAM Nuttall and replaces a disused railway track that could have been reopened and connected to the national rail network. The project has run late and is over budget.

For information about the service that will run see this page.

The Luton Busway will be served initially by four bus routes provided by three bus companies. Arriva will run routes A (Houghton Regis to Luton Station Interchange, Luton Airport Parkway Station and London Luton Airport). Centrebus runs routes B (Downside Jardine Way to Luton Station Interchange) and E ( Toddington Green to Luton Galaxy Centre). Grant Palmer runs route C (Hillcroft Dunstable to Luton Station Interchange). Details here.

Each company has its own fare structure but the multi-operator Hip-Hop ticket ( £4.60 per day, £18.50 per week) which can be used on all Arriva and Centrebus services is being extended to cover the Grant Palmer busway service C.












Sunday, 8 September 2013

BAM Nuttall's decision to settle out of court



Hugh Taylor has emailed me the following, which is about why BAM Nuttall decided to settle out of court with Cambridgeshire County Council:

Tantalisingly, the New Civil Engineer website posted a news story on 
Wednesday, with this beneath the headline:

"Bam Nuttall has explained its decision to settle in its dispute with 
Cambridgeshire County Council over costs to build its guided busway."

http://www.nce.co.uk/news/business/nce-live-news-updates-wednesday-4-september-uk-slips-to-10th-in-global-competitive-index/8652674.article?blocktitle=NCE-Live-Updates&contentID=8860

Given that Bam Nuttall has consistently refused to comment on the 
settlement, this was an intriguing prospect. Unfortunately, only NCE 
subscribers are permitted access to the details - and the story doesn't 
even turn up in the daily package fed to content aggregators such as 
Factiva or ABI/INFORM.

What does turn up in the package for 5 September, though, is a story 
about both the Cambridge and Luton busways. Much of the Cambridge 
section of this is a reworking of the County Council's press release, 
but there are a few points which are of interest, given that they come 
from an unbiased source, and one with a considerable reputation in the 
engineering world.

First, there's confirmation of the figures: "... Bam Nuttall last year 
issued a £43M counterclaim - so the settlement represents a £76M 
climbdown from the contractor's original position." This is the sum the 
County Council would have had to pay if it hadn't challenged the 
contractor's bill.

Then there's a clear explanation of just how little the "extra" work 
cost the Council: "It also means construction of the busway, which the 
council says was handed over two years late, cost the local authority 
£84.7M - just £800,000 more than the original price."

And finally this: "Bam Nuttall parent Royal Bam Group said the 
settlement had already been incorporated in its figures for the half 
year to 31 June 2013 and so would have no impact on profit forecast for 
the full year." I take this to mean that Bam Nuttall had anticipated 
this settlement some months ago - in other words, they had effectively 
given up the fight before the summer.

For anyone new to this saga, the NCE story provides a handy summary:

"The busway missed its original opening date in 2009, and the council 
charged Bam Nuttall a daily £14,000 fee for late delivery... After a 
number of attempts, the scheme was finally handed over in May 2011. Bam 
Nuttall then filed its counterclaim, citing mismanagement by the 
council's project manager Atkins as the cause of the delay. The council 
brought in Jackson Civil Engineering to complete additional work on the 
busway before it was finally commissioned in August 2011."

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Article about busway in TransportXtra

There is a very informative and readable article about the Cambridgeshire busway in TransportXtra, issue 630, 5 September 2013. It can be viewed online here. The article provides an overview of the development of the busway, how it has performed  and its economic impact for the local area.

TransportXtra describes itself as 'the ultimate transport resource'. It features news, analysis and comment from the leading transport trade press.

(Thanks to Hugh Taylor for alerting me to this article)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Busway and traffic levels on A14

An article has appeared in the Cambridge News suggesting that despite the heavy levels of passengers using the busway, traffic on the A14 hasn't declined. Read the article here.

Thanks to Hugh,  who is a regular reader of this blog, for identifying the relevant page on Cambridgeshire County Council's website that contains these figures here and  see the full Traffic Monitoring Report (published 14 May 2013) here.


Friday, 30 August 2013

Dispute settled out of court

Cambridgeshire County Council today released a statement that they have settled the dispute with BAM Nuttall, builders of the guided busway, out of court.  The statement can be read here.

The agreement is said to be £76 million in the Council's favour. The Council has paid BAM Nuttall £84.7 million as against the original price of £83.9 million.

This news is also reported by Cambridge News here.


Monday, 26 August 2013

St Ives Bank Holiday Market

As usual for a Bank Holiday Monday, St Ives Bus Station is closed today because it is full of market stalls. But Station Road  is clear of stalls, so Cambridge-bound guided buses can call at their usual stop there.

Whippet's website notes the following: Monday 26 August - bank holiday market in St Ives, bus station closed, see signs for alternative stopping points.

But I could see no signs up at the bus station advising travellers where to catch their buses.

I could find no information on the Stagecoach website or on www.thebusway.info

The bus timetable available on Cambridgeshire County Council website for Stagecoach route B shows the timetable for Bank Holiday Monday, with west bound buses calling at St Ives Bus Station Bay 4  - which is plainly impossible because of the market stalls.

A temporary bus stop in Station Road for west bound buses would be a simple way to solve the problem.

There are signs up in The Quadrant advising motorists not to park there because the spaces would be needed for buses.



Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Busway passenger statistics

This week's Hunts Post (21 August, page 16) says that the busway has carried 3,096,370 passengers in its second year of operation. This comes close to achieving the target of £3.15 million  which had been projected for the busway's third year of operation. Stagecoach reckons the high level of usage is due to reliability of the journey and the quality of the vehicles. Both Stagecoach and Whippet hope that usage will rise once the Northstowe housing development gets under way.

[correction added 17 Oct 2014 - the target should read 3.15 million not £3.15 -  see comments below]


Monday, 19 August 2013

Cutting of Busway Verges

I noticed last week grass has been cut about 1.5m wide strip adjacent to the bus track (but not along sides of cyclepath) between Swavesey & St Ives.

As of Friday evening, no sign of it having gone onwards towards Cambridge.
Photo: David Parish

 Do they have a guided grasscutter?



There are a number of places where the grass / hedges / brambles beside the path are in need of trimming; it is particularly bad near Histon stop:
Photo: David Parish


I would say this is dangerous – if you catch a bramble in your face whilst cycling it could be nasty.  

I have not been along in the dark, but I guess many of the stud lights are obscured by overhanging weeds.

I've submitted a "highways fault" note to Cambridgeshire County Council.....

Update 14 September

I note the trimming of the grass strip beside the bus track has now continued, and conclude from the marks left that we don't have a guided grass-cutter, but a person with a strimmer.

I've had no response from County Council, and not seen much signs of action.
I now carry a fold-up pair of secateurs, and have stopped and clipped off a few of the worst brambles, (blackberry and roses) that I have noticed in a few places.

Linked with above - and discussions on more recent posts on the recommended width of cycle track, this morning I measured the width of the track on the slope westward down from Covells Drain. (This is to the section that floods longest between Swavesey & Fen Drayton) . The track is 3.1m wide, but the vegetation was hanging over by 1.1m on the left and 0.6m on the right leaving a gap of just 1.4m, or 45% of what it should be.


Photo: David Parish