Smarter Cambridge Transport

Cambridge South West Park & Ride: Irrational and actively harmful to the public interest

(This response to the Greater Cambridge Partnership chair is also available here as a PDF. The text here has been corrected to reflect the estimated construction cost of the P&R at £47million rather than £55million – the difference is essentially ex versus inc VAT.)

Dear Cllr Herbert,

I am responding to your emailed response to objectors to the “Cambridge South West Travel Hub.” (see footnote*)

As Smarter Cambridge Transport coined the phrase ‘travel hub’, we would like to correct its misuse by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP). It is not a euphemism for park-and-ride. A travel hub is a multi-modal interchange with high quality walking and cycling connections to a village or group of villages. From the hub, express bus or train services run regularly to major destinations from 6am to 11pm. Local and/or demand-responsive bus services provide connections from a wider catchment area as well as inward connections to local business and leisure destinations. Car parking provision is typically small, reducing as connectivity improves.

Your response to objectors stated:

This scheme will cut congestion and aims to intercept at least 2,000 vehicles a day that would otherwise head on through often congested traffic into Cambridge or Addenbrookes.… The proposal is being recommended as an essential part of expanding public transport and reducing the 34,000 vehicles a day using junction 11 from the A10 and the M11, and avoiding a future of daily gridlock there.

The assertions regarding congestion are diametrically opposed to the evidence presented in the Outline Business Case, for instance on page 61 of the VISSIM Model Assessment Report:

The results show that all future year scenarios increase congestion throughout the network. … High levels of latent demand throughout all forecast options indicate the network cannot process the demand sufficiently and is over capacity.

The performance of the Do Something (DS) options in the PM peak is less positive. The average network speed in all DS scenarios drops below 20kmph over the three-hour peak and below 11kmph for all DS scenarios including the proposed new park and ride in the last hour. Unlike the AM, none of the DS scenarios outperform the Do Minimum (and Base), with higher levels of delay reported.

It is common ground that the number of people needing or wanting to travel to the Biomedical Campus and into Cambridge is set to increase far beyond the capacity of the road network at current mode shares. However, GCP is ignoring the fact that the road network around the M11–A10 interchange is already over capacity at peak times, and that adding a P&R at this location will increase demand to travel to this point in the network.

The proposed P&R is therefore not even part of a solution; it intensifies the problem. For instance, regular bus services using the A10 (Busway ‘A’ and ‘D’) and M11 (‘H’ service between Papworth and Addenbrooke’s) will be severely delayed by congestion this scheme will cause.

Intercepting traffic at the M11–A10 interchange is too late in journeys to the Biomedical Campus or into Cambridge. Public transport has to be provided from closer to people’s homes in the travel-to-work area. Until CAM opens, that means running buses on more routes, for longer hours and at higher frequencies.

The Combined Authority’s support for this scheme is conditional on the P&R being ‘temporary’. The Outline Business Case concludes that this is not practical and cost savings would be modest. Nevertheless, CAM is intended to supersede this P&R. That means the operating life could be just six years. That means GCP could spend the equivalent of £8million/year to provide 2,260 parking spaces.

That sum could subsidise 40 million bus passenger-journeys a year, assuming average fare revenues. This would equate to moving 55,000 people a day – twenty-four times as many people as the proposed Park & Ride would serve. It is also twice as many people as currently use buses across the whole of Cambridgeshire. A step-change in bus provision is possible with partnership agreements and tendering of services.

GCP is focusing on a single benefit (intercepting more cars beyond Hauxton Road) and ignoring severe negative side-effects. This is both irrational and actively harmful to the public interest.

We strongly urge the Executive Board to reject officers’ recommendations 2.1(b) to (d) to progress to developing the proposed Park & Ride and, instead, to focus on measures that support rural bus services with true travel hubs and high quality walking and cycling links.

Kind regards,

Edward Leigh
Leader, Smarter Cambridge Transport

*For the benefit of other readers I append your full response to objectors:

Thank you for your recent email about the proposed new travel hub for SW Cambridge, supporting the Smarter Cambridge Transport campaign on this issue. A decision will be made on this travel hub at the next Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board meeting on 27 June, and I will consider your points in reviewing the proposals.

 As you are probably aware, usage levels at Trumpington Park and Ride have been growing very rapidly and it is already full by early morning on most days of the week.  While we are considering plans that would potentially fund and improve bus services further outwards, extra travel hub capacity near Junction 11 is essential for people to travel into central Cambridge, and to Addenbrookes and the Biomedical Campus, reliably and more sustainably – including last mile journeys by bus.

 This scheme will cut congestion and aims to intercept at least 2,000 vehicles a day that would otherwise head on through often congested traffic into Cambridge or Addenbrookes. In the recent consultation, 71% of respondents supported the option of a new site west of the M11. The proposal is being recommended as an essential part of expanding public transport and reducing the 34,000 vehicles a day using junction 11 from the A10 and the M11, and avoiding a future of daily gridlock there. The GCP have also published a final technical assessment that shows in detail how this scheme helps deliver public transport and reduce delays at this key junction.

 Travel hubs are an important part of the overall strategy and are essential to support delivery of public transport improvements both now and for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro in the future. So it is one of a significant range of elements that will in combination both reduce the numbers of future journeys by car, and the length of the journeys made by car.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Lewis Herbert
Chair, Greater Cambridge Partnership

Edward Leigh

Edward Leigh is the leader of Smarter Cambridge Transport, chair and independent co-opted member of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel, chair of the South Petersfield Residents Association, business owner, consultant, and occasional blogger about making the world and Cambridge a better place to live.

Add comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.