Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Smarter Cambridge Transport publishes major report on Busway defects

Many readers of this blog will know of Smarter Cambridge Transport (SCT), the initiative of an impartial group of local volunteers, who are developing and promoting a modern vision for integrated transport in Cambridge and the surrounding region. They have recently posted a major report, with accompanying commentary, on the Busway's defects. Actually, I'd go further than that - although the title of the report mentions only "defects", the report itself explores the whole long-term viability of the Busway, not just the immediate repairs which are required (and which are likely to be the subject of legal proceedings between the County Council and BAM Nuttall).

Here's just a short taster from SCT's blog post:

Smarter Cambridge Transport has prepared a detailed review of reports commissioned by the County Council. It identifies more than twenty areas of concern with the busway not identified in those reports. The council leader, Councillor Count, has indicated that two companies, Capita and Atkins, are continuing investigations and that our findings have have already been investigated. We cannot verify this until a new report or statement of claim is published.
Perhaps the most important question we pose is whether the problems are due in part not to construction defects, but to inherent design flaws that repairs alone cannot fix.
The review runs to 22 pages. For those who don't have the time or energy to read the whole thing (although it comes highly recommended for anyone interested in the future of the Busway), there's the usual Executive Summary. And the blog post which helped launch it also provides a useful (but different) summary.

Although the report was launched on 20 July, the version currently available from the SCT website (and to which the link below leads) is dated 26 July (the blog post was updated on that date as well). There's no indication as to what changes were made that I can find.

Here are the links you need:

Blog post: http://www.smartertransport.uk/guided-busway-defects/

Report (PDF): http://www.smartertransport.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Guided-Busway-Defects-1q.pdf

According to the Cambridge News, the County Council "do not consider that [the SCT report] raises any new issues that need to be considered as part of our claim [against BAM Nuttall]." In addition, the council leader, Councillor Count, has indicated that twenty areas of concern with the busway listed by SCT as not having been identified by Capita's reports into the Busway's defects "have already been investigated". Smarter Cambridge Transport say they cannot verify this until a new report or statement of claim is published. Here's the link to that Cambridge News story.

[Declaration of interest: earlier this year I was asked to comment on an early version of the SCT report  - which I did. I have had no involvement with the report or its authors since then.]

Monday, 24 July 2017

Cambridge - diversion to end of August

Busway route B services are being diverted Monday to Friday until the end of August in Cambridge city centre. The stops in Round Church Street and Jesus Lane are not being served and buses are being routed via Mitcham's Corner. No alternative stops are being provided, which means that the nearest stops are those on Castle Street and Drummer Street Bus Station.

At least that's the theory. One service (almost certainly the 1745 from Drummer St) was observed today on its normal route in Bridge Street.

There's nothing about this diversion on the County Council website.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Busway derailments - FoI request

In the three weeks following the 21 June derailment on the Busway south of Cambridge railway station, four Freedom of Information requests relating to various aspects of the Busway and its operation were submitted. I will attempt to track them and to provide more information as responses to these requests are posted.

First up in this mini-series is a request from Sam Webster, who asked the following of the County Council:
There have been a number of derailments on the guided busway. For each of these, could you please provide:
1. Date, time, location and type and operator of the bus
2. A brief description of any damage to the busway caused by the derailment
3. The cost of any repairs to the busway (a rough estimate is fine)
4. Copies of any reports compiled on the derailment
5. Details of any penalties applied to operators as a result of the derailment
6. Details of any changes made to the operation of the busway as a result of the derailment
The County Council's response details four such derailments:
A: 20/11/12 15:00 St Ives-bound guideway north of junction with B1050 at Longstanton Single decker bus operated by Stagecoach
B: 22/2/16 13:59 St Ives-bound guideway north of Trumpington cutting Single decker bus operated by Stagecoach
C: 7/7/16 07:33 Northern end of single guideway section in Trumpington cutting Single decker bus operated by Stagecoach
D: 21/6/17 15:47 Trumpington-bound guideway south of Hills Road bridge Single decker bus operated by Whippet Coaches
Reports were compiled on B and C - these have been in the public domain for some time. A report on D is currently in preparation. No report was ever produced on derailment A, even though the cost of repairs for that one (ca. £100,000) cost twice the anticipated combined totals of the three other incidents. No penalties have ever been imposed (although it's too soon to say what might happen regarding the most recent derailment).

Anyone wanting to read the full response - or to have a handy link to the two reports referred to - is advised to follow this link. The Cambridge News also picked up on this request - its story based on the information provided can be found here .

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Fenstanton joins the Busway network

Not only is Fenstanton shortly to join the Busway network (a term I've just made up to describe the off-Busway services than continue to/from the Busway without the need to change buses...), but Whippet also plan to increase their "C" services (albeit by terminating in Cambridge City Centre and not serving the Railway Station - and omitting Somersham at the other end). Here's the full announcement from Whippet.

"Route C from 2 September 2017 We will be increasing the number of journeys between St Ives and Cambridge, Drummer Street Bus Station to provide a bus up to every 30 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays. Buses will continue to operate every hour on Sundays, but the gap at midday will be removed so the service is regular throughout the day.  Route C will no longer serve Cambridge Railway Station, Somersham or Hills Road/Ramsey Road in St Ives.  Some morning and afternoon journeys will start and finish at Fenstanton, providing residents with their first Busway service to Cambridge and a Sunday service."

This is part of a major shake-up of Whippet local bus services. Anyone interested in the "bigger picture" will want to read this announcement.

Fenstanton was, for a short while, served by a Stagecoach "feeder" bus to St Ives Park and Ride.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Speeding?

According to a report on the BBC website Cambridge City Councillor Zoe O'Connell (Trumpington, Liberal Democrat) has purchased a speed gun, which she has used to demonstrate that some buses are exceeding a 15mph speed limit in the vicinity of Cambridge Railway Station.

From the accompanying video report, it seems that the speed gun was used in the area just south of the Hills Road bridge (close to the site of last week's accident, therefore). If memory serves, this is not a public highway, so breaking the speed limit here would not be a regular traffic offence. Rather, the limit was applied by the County Council to a busway section operating on County Council land, and as such any speeding - if proven - would be a matter between the operator and the County Council (and presumably covered by the operating manual that controls so much of what happens on the Busway). If anyone has more definite information on the legal situation, please share it!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Accident south of Cambridge railway station

A Whippet single decker, operating the University's "Universal" contract, was involved in an accident earlier this afternoon on the Trumpington stretch of Busway, just after the entrance to the guided section south of Cambridge railway station. Reports are still coming in - you might want to follow this Cambridge News link for more information (and for more up-to-date information). It seems no other vehicle was involved.

Update 22:15, 21 June
Latest information from Whippet is that the driver swerved to avoid two cyclists. What they were doing in a location that such action was required is not immediately clear from reports.

Update, 11 July
The BBC reports that the Whippet driver involved in this incident has been sacked for speeding. The report doesn't indicate whether speeding was the sole cause of the accident. Follow this link for more information:

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Closure This Weekend


This sign is at Fendrayton Lakes crossing, as you go towards St. Ives.

Stagecoach Updates say:

"Due to repairs being made to the track, all Busway services are unable to serve Fen Drayton Lakes on the 17th & 18th of June.
10-15 minutes will be added onto the journey time for the diversion in both directions. However, extra buses and drivers will be used to minimise the delay although slight delays are expected to occur.

We apologise for any inconveniences caused."

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Stagecoach R Service

The Stagecoach R Service (Trumpingtion to Cambridge Station) has returned to a 15 minute service at peak times.  Not everybody is happy. The service now diverts to Cambridge Biomedical Campus, (not necessarily picking up or dropping off any passengers) and this delay means early morning commuters are now missing their direct trains to London.   You can read the story here in the Cambridge News.

Bollards on maintenance / cycle track

Controversy over bollards is not new, but in recent weeks some of the bollards along the maintenance / cycle track have been changed.

It appears this has only been at the major road junctions, and only the centre of the three bollards has been changed. Some at the lesser crossings, just as dangerous, have not (yet?) been changed. 

At Milton Road junction
Note the old bollard remains in front of the new one. Both it, and the other 2 are lowered.

At Fendrayton Lakes - looking away from the junction towards Swavesey
Note the reflector is white.

Fendrayton Lakes - same bollard looking towards junction.
Note the reflector is red.

The bollards appear the same as the ones on the new busway extension to to Cambridge North station reported on this blog here,... except for the reflectors. There you will see not one, but three bollards with orange reflectors on both sides. The new ones have red reflectors one side and white the other.

Why this difference? Maybe(?) red means 'Danger' - you are approaching a junction, and white means you have left it.

Reflectors are designed to reflect light back in exactly to where it came from. For this reason - they are most effective for cyclists if their light is near their eyes - e.g. a head mounted light.
They are much less effective for cyclists with handlebar mounted lights - especially if their lights are thoughtfully dipped to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic.

However, there is a stud light just in front of the bollards, (I can't remember what colour), which does not rely on reflecting light from the cyclist.

But why only one new style bollard?
- maybe one is enough (and the others will be left down)?
- maybe to leave enough room for the Multihog to grit the track without having to stop so often?

Anybody have any more information on the reasons behind this change?

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Cambridge North Railway Station has opened


Beautiful spring day for the opening of Cambridge's new station.



The A bus to St Ives about to depart from the new bus stop outside the station earlier today. It's linked to Milton Road by 500 metres of bus-only road, with a short length of guide rail at each end. Through buses to/from St Ives only run at certain times of the day, but at other times St Ives-Cambridge North passengers connect at Longstanton. The bus journey between St Ives and Cambridge North is quicker than that between St Ives and Huntingdon Station, so it offers a viable alternative route to/from London.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Update from Stagecoach about the revised busway services

Stagecoach have just sent out an update message by email which summarises the changes to the busway timetable resulting from the opening of Cambridge north Station. You can read it at this link .

Thursday, 18 May 2017

New timetable showing busway buses serving Cambridge North station

The new timetable, which starts on Sunday 21 May, for busway services that will be calling at Cambridge North Station has been posted on Cambridgeshire County Council's busway website http://www.thebusway.info/ .  This includes all journeys on routes A, B, D, N and R.

Click on this link http://thebusway.info/pdfs/tt/AB-may2017.pdf

The timetable is also available on Stagecoach's website at https://tiscon-maps-stagecoachbus.s3.amazonaws.com/Timetables/East/HYBRIDS/The%20Busway%20Complete%20-%20HYBRID.pdf

The pdf shows the current timetable ( i.e. valid until 20 May) followed by the new timetable ( but no start is shown on the pages listing new services D or N and revised services A, B and R).



Monday, 8 May 2017

Train timetable for Cambridge North Station from 21 May 2017

Timetables for the new Cambridge North Station, which opens on 21 May,  and connects to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, can be viewed on the Abellio Greater Anglia website  at https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/sites/default/files/assets/download_ct/ga1705_web_regional_table_10.pdf 

and on the Great Northern Rail website at https://www.greatnorthernrail.com/travel-information/plan-your-journey/timetables .

Guided buses serving Cambridge North Station

Timetables for the guided buses that will serve Cambridge North Station from 21 May can be viewed at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/buses/bus-timetables/

There will be two completely new routes:

Service  D will run between Cambridge and St Ives via Cambridge North during peak periods Monday-Friday only - to Cambridge in the morning, and from Cambridge in the evening. Some of these journeys will start from or continue to some of teh towns and villages north and west of St Ives.

Service N will link Longstanton Park & Ride and Cambridge North throughout most of the the day Monday-Saturday. A few morning journeys will start from St Ives, and a few evening journeys will continue to St Ives.

Two existing routes will be amended to serve Cambridge North at certain times:

A few Service A journeys towards St Ives will serve Cambridge North, Monday to Friday early evening. Service A will run half hourly between Drummer Street and St Ives via Cambridge North on Sundays.

Citi 2 will serve Cambridge North daily.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Bus route changes on Sunday 7th May

I've received this message about changes to the busway service B during part of Sunday 7th May:

Disruption to Busway on Sunday 7th May 2017
Dear Busway user
Due to an event taking place in Cambridge on Sunday 7th May, the Busway B will need to use a different route between Histon and Cambridge between approximately 1130 and 1320
During this time we will use the "A" route, which means we will not be able to serve any of the Orchard Park Stops, Jesus Lane and Shire Hall.
Customers in Orchard Park should use the Busway stops at CRC during the closure. Customers can also use the Citi 1 from Kings Hedges Road to/from Central Cambridge or the Citi 8 from Histon Road to/from Central Cambridge/Histon
Normal service is expected before 1130 and after 1320
Please note that other Stagecoach services within Cambridge will also be affected. Please click HERE for details
We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause due to the factors outside our control
Best wishes
The Busway Team

Friday, 28 April 2017

Timetable changes from 21 May - mostly Cambridge North-related

As anticipated, there are various timetable changes planned in connection with the opening of the Cambridge North railway station on 21 May. New timetables can be found on Traveline and the Stagecoach website, but there's no written description of the changes on the latter's "Latest Updates" page. Here's my attempt to summarise for you (although perhaps it would have been simpler just to wait for Stagecoach's own write-up!).

The easiest to describe is the new route "N", which runs Cambridge City Centre-Longstanton (and reverse), Mon-Sat only, and via Cambridge North. There are three journeys in each direction that extend to/from St Ives. The service runs every 20 mins from around 0700 to 1900 (since this service operates out of the Fenstanton depot, the earliest departures are from St Ives, and the latest from Cambridge). Within Cambridge, buses will do an anti-clockwise look - Emmanuel St, St Andrew's St, Gonville Place, Parkside, Emmanuel St. Note that this service does NOT serve the main railway station in Cambridge.

There is another new service "D" (not to be confused with the now defunct Whippet route "D"). This operates a rush-hour service from St Ives to Cambridge Railway Station (via Cambridge North) in the morning, and the reverse in the afternoon. There are 7 or 8 departures each day, Mon-Fri only, but significantly fewer during school holidays. However, the extent to which this is genuinely a "new" service is arguable, since it seems to incorporate some journeys that were formerly running as "A". So it's probably best to consider the "D" in conjunction with the revised "A". It's impossible to summarise the changes overall in this context, so I suggest eager readers simply have a look at the timetables and see how their journeys are affected.

One very specific change to the "A" is that the last three St Ives-bound departures, Mon-Sat, will divert via Cambridge North. For those heading out into the countryside, this is scheduled to add 2 minutes to your journey.

Sundays: more significant changes are coming here. The current "B" service on Sunday operates every 20 minutes. This will be reduced to a half-hourly frequency, with half-hourly "A" services (via Cambridge North) being added to the timetable. So an overall increase in frequency, with half of the journeys running via Cambridge North. Passengers from Histon and beyond will realise that the "A" is a quicker way to make it to Cambridge City Centre than the roundabout route the "B" takes (it can be quicker to take the Citi 8 from Shire Hall to Histon than the B).

Finally, the "R" continues to make its circuit around the station development - in from Trumpington via the Busway, then Station Rd, Hills Rd and back to the Busway. Rather late in the day, Stagecoach has decided to add the Hills Rd stop (opposite the Botanic Garden - opposite, indeed, the old Eastern Counties garage for those who were around in those days) to the schedule.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Driverless minibuses - feasibility study funded

According to a report posted yesterday (13 April) on the Local Transport Today website (LTT is "the authoritative, independent journal for transport decision makers"):

"The government has awarded £31m to 24 connected and autonomous vehicle projects.
One project to receive funds is the Cambridge autonomous bus system feasibility study, which could lead to driverless minibuses operating over part of the Cambridgeshire guided busway."

So it looks as though one of the Smart Cambridge projects is going to receive government backing to evaluate its feasibility.

If you want to learn more about what Smart Cambridge is investigating, there's a detailed Cambridge News report to answer all your questions. (Admittedly, I'm guessing this is the same project as the one that HMG is investing in, although in the 4 March CN report it says quite clearly that the feasibility study is already being funded - by the City Deal and Cambridge Ahead. Puzzling.)

Friday, 7 April 2017

Cambridge North

As most readers of this blog will be aware, the new Cambridge North railway station is due to open for scheduled services on May 20th. And we can expect a number of bus services to serve this station, including those using the new extension to the Guided Busway.

Stagecoach has submitted proposals to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency for changes to the existing registration of the A and B services (which are registered as a single service). They also seem to be proposing a new service "N", to operate from St Ives Park & Ride to Central Cambridge - this will run Monday-Saturday only. Unfortunately, there's no public access to the actual timetables submitted for approval, and there's no further information to be found as yet on the Stagecoach website. The Cambridge Independent has a story, mostly dealing with Northstowe, and giving very little further information - follow this link for that item.

Whippet hasn't, to date, submitted any request to change its existing Route C timetable. (Route D was abandoned some years ago.)

Readers interested in the actual station might find this Cambridge News article rewarding.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Car Blocking Addenbrooke's Spur

Approx 16:00 this afternoon Adenbrooke's spur of the busway (heading away from the hospital) was blocked by a car that had got almost to the end of the spur, and then fallen down between the tracks. There were 2 Guided buses stuck behind it.

Stagecoach say buses from hospital to Trumpington and Station being diverted by road, and not able to server Foster Road.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bus stop for Houghton village

Houghton village is situated about 2 miles west of St Ives. The guided service B does not call at Houghton because there are no bus stops on the A1123. Local residents have been campaigning for several years for bus stops to be provided. That campaign is soon to be realised with design work currently under way for new bus stop lay-bys, a pedestrian crossong point and real time bus information.


Hunts Post 22 March 2017 page 13.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Busway route diversions - Sunday 5 March 2017 until 13.00

Because of the Cambridge Half Marathon, Busway route B will be diverted until 13.00  on Sunday 5th March.

Buses will be unable to serve Shire Hall, Round Church, Jesus Lane and New Square.

Passengers should use Drummer Street Bay 12.  Full details here.

Whippet's route C will also be diverted and there will be times when buses cannot serve stops at Mitcham’s Corner and New Square. Click here to download a PDF showing the alternative bus stops



Friday, 13 January 2017

Cars on busway

Regular readers may have noticed that the blog hasn't been consistently reporting incursions onto the Busway by cars and other vehicles (or by their drivers). As fast as one can type, there's another one - it's hard to keep up! And after the first couple, there's not much one can say...

One during last night's rush hour on the Orchard Park section of the "B" route (close to the Orchard Park West stop) brings the total to six since the beginning of December.

Handily, a story in the Cambridge News, published yesterday afternoon, summarises the consequences for drivers (who are, after all, breaking the law). In addition to any damage to their vehicle, the driver has to pay the County Council for removal of the vehicle. In addition, they receive three points on their licence.

The Cambridge News story was published before the latest incursion. There's a separate CN report on that incident.