The idea of a busway from Cambourne to Cambridge first appeared in the April 2014 Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire: “a segregated bus and cycle route along the length of the A428 between Queen’s Road in Cambridge to the Caxton Gibbet roundabout…” Various groups have since promoted alternatives, including a light rail link to the Girton Interchange (Cambridge Connect), or widening the A1303 to accommodate a tidal bus lane (Local Liaison Forum). Then the mayor intervened, promising a ‘metro’ line (heavily hinting at light rail), which would enter a tunnel in west Cambridge and avoid the West Fields.
The plan now before politicians has barely moved on from what we started with: a busway via Coton, joining Grange Rd by the University Rugby Club (see illustration above). It will carry regular buses, since articulated vehicles, as envisaged for the ‘metro’, could not navigate Cambridge streets.
If we’re going to build a ‘metro’, let’s at least start with a detailed plan: route map, locations of underground stations and tunnel portals, guidance technology, business model, funding sources, etc. Going off half-cock on a multi-billion pound investment is never going to end well.
In the meantime, let’s fix the two most immediate problems: congestion on Madingley Hill and lack of a bus station at Cambourne.
Smarter Cambridge Transport’s proposal recommends three key actions:
- Widen the first 500m of the A1303 from Madingley Mulch roundabout; add traffic lights to concentrate traffic there in the morning peak (like on some motorway on-ramps); and include a bypass lane so buses can skip any queue.
- Build a travel hub at Cambourne to connect local transport with express buses to Cambridge, the Biomedical Campus, St Neots and beyond. (This was an aspiration in the 2006 Local Transport Plan!)
- Meanwhile, work with Highways England to ‘fix’ the Girton Interchange in 2021, so traffic bound for destinations south of Cambridge can join the M11 directly from the A428. Build a Park & Ride there to intercept longer-distance traffic from the A14 and A428.
Does this all sound eerily familiar? You can let politicians know you want a change of course using this form here. Please do.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 21 November 2018.