Monday, 9 April 2018

Unplanned diversion - overrunning works?

The Busway was closed during this morning's rush hour south of Cambridge Railway Station. Does anyone have any further information? I've checked the County Council, Stagecoach and Whippet Twitter feeds, Facebook and web pages, and none report any problems. The driver of one bus was clearly unaware, so it seems like a last-minute thing.

My guess is that it's "overrunning engineering works" (a disease transmitted by the neighbouring railway line, perhaps...).

Friday, 6 April 2018

Busway diversions - weekends in April

More diversions coming up! Starting tomorrow (Saturday 7 April)!!

This weekend: between Cambridge Railway Station and Trumpington Park and Ride
14-15 April: in Histon, between Park Road and Station Road (St Ives-bound buses will serve a stop in Station Road)

Further information (although there isn't much to be said) is available on the County Council website. (Annoyingly, there's no link to this announcement on the County Council's own dedicated Busway page - and the announcement itself appears, from the embedded metadata, to have been posted as late as 2115 on 6 April - contradicting the displayed date of 5 April, and leaving it rather late to warn passengers)


Thursday, 5 April 2018

March diversions - what was done?

Stephen Lawrence asked - in a comment to the 9 March posting on that month's Busway diversions - if anyone knew what work was carried out. And lo, as chance would have it, correspondent RichardC provided some very interesting information about the two weekends of work at Histon, together with a number of further questions! If anyogone has further information, please post a comment or email the blog at: buswayblog@btinternet.com

Here's what RichardC reports:

"Quick update on closures over weekends of 17/18 and 24/25 March.  On the first weekend it appears that five beam sets to south-east of Histon overbridge (Bridge Road) were lifted and realigned.  On the second weekend the work concentrated on the area around the Cambridge-bound stop to the west of the bridge.
 
Attached image shows activity in the afternoon of 24 March. 


Lifting frames with hydraulic jacks, apparently under supervision of Ekspan of Sheffield who supplied the original close-tolerance bearing pads.
 

Clearly lifting the beam set is not easy.  At this location, buses will have braked to a standstill at the stop, then accelerated away.  In the mornings the buses will be full almost to capacity, so maybe the beams have shifted, and jammed tightly together?  Surprising to see puddles on the guideway, on what should be a very flat, level surface.  Also at a similar point on the maintenance track.  Wonder what is causing that?"

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Busway cycle track flooded


The busway cycle track isflooded between St Ives Park & Ride and Fen Drayton. This is due to high water levels in the river Great Ouse.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Easter timetables on busway

Stagecoach will be running a Sunday bus service on the guided busway on Good Friday (30 March) and Easter Monday (2 April). Normal service on Easter Saturday and Sunday.

See http://thebusway.info/news.shtml

New timetable starting Sunday 1st April 2018

Stagecoach have publishedtheir new busway timetable, to come into operation on Sunday 1st April. Details at http://thebusway.info/pdfs/tt/ABNR-april2018.pdf

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

https://www.stagecoachbus.com/service-updates/serviceupdatesarticle?SituationId=ID-24/02/2017-14:31:57:474

Whippet bus route C will also be diverted. See http://www.go-whippet.co.uk/diversions-and-known-disruptions/

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:
https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/weekend-guided-busway-repairs-planned/

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.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

"Grounds" maintenance

According to a report prepared for the County Council's Economy and Environment Committe, and due to be discussed at the next meeting of that committee on 11 January, the current contract for maintenance of the Busway "grounds" is due for renewal from October.

The existing contract - which also covers the county's Park & Ride sites, and which is let in partnership between the County and South Cambridgeshire District Council - was issued for 3 years in 2015. That shared contract allowed the number of contractors involved to be whittled down from four to just one. Overall savings of 6% were achieved as a result.

The Busway maintenance costs are covered by the access charges levied on bus operators.

One proposal to be considered by next week's meeting is that the new contract should run for 5 years. According to the report:
"This longer period may encourage contractors to offer greater savings to the overall contract and may also allow them to invest in bigger equipment such as tractor and flail type machinery to speed up certain aspects of grounds maintenance currently undertaken, especially along the Busway."
 Eagle-eyed readers will already have observed that there's no mention of improving the quality of the maintenance - so we've no reason to expect the issues of overhanging trees, or growth obstructing the maintenance track, to be alleviated as a consequence of any new contract. "Cheaper" and "faster" appear to be the Council's objectives.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Timetable changes, 7 January (or 8 January, to be more precise)

Stagecoach are introducing a few timetable changes to Busway services with effect from 7 January (although none of the changes actually seem to apply until Monday 8 January). Here are the details:
A new journey has been added at 0823 from Longstanton Park & Ride to Cambridge Rail Station. The 0702 journey from Hill Rise will start at 0625 at Somersham, and will serve Colne, Earith, Bluntisham and Needingworth.
Also, the 0745 Route N from Cambridge will now terminate at Longstanton Park & Ride (M-F).

And here's a link to the revised timetable.

Speed monitoring - FoI request reveals all (or not much?)

There have been a number of posts on this blog in recent months cncerning traffic speeds on the Busway (too many for me to bother to post all the links here). And here's another one!

Cllr Zoe O'Connell - picking up on earlier developments regarding the monitoring of speed along the Busway - recently submitted an FoI request to Cambridgeshire County Council. She asked:
Please can you provide any records of speed monitoring carried out on the Guided Busway by the county council using the speed monitoring device purchased in August or September of this year.
If possible, please can you include:
1) The date, time and location of any monitoring activities
2) The speed limit at that location
3) The speeds of any vehicles obtained.
4) Any follow up action by the council.
Now,  the request is slightly ambiguous because it relies on her understanding of the "speed monitoring device" being the same as the County Council's. (For what it's worth, I thought she was referring to a portable device covered in my December 5 blog post.)

The County's response has now been posted. It's brief, and doesn't reveal very much!
We have a portable camera we use to monitor speed on the Guided Busway. The only fixed camera we have at present is along the Trumpington single track section. The monitoring here is constant between 05:00 and 21:00 Monday to Saturday (whilst buses are running)

We capture anything that travels over 20 mph (to rule out cyclists etc).

Details of any bus travelling over 33 mph (limit plus 10%) will be sent to the relevant bus operator. The first block of information will be sent during January 2018. The Speed indicator device has been in place since November and during this time the device has been tested and calibrated to provide us with the accurate data that we require.
The County's response fails to provide any information at all about the use to which the portable camera has been put (why? Isn't that part of the point of the original FoI request?). And the fixed camera is too new for there to be any results to report.

So we're not much the wiser at this point!

I suspect Cllr O'Connell will be persisting with her questions.

If you want to look at the full exchange, follow this link.