There is no doubt that James Palmer is serious about improving bus services, but can his Task Force deliver?
Category - Cambridge Independent
Smarter Cambridge Transport’s weekly columns in the ‘Cambridge Independent’ newspaper
To de-carbonise the economy, restore balance with nature, enhance public health and promote social justice, we have to do government differently.
The pressure on public transport from investor-subsidised private alternatives won’t be for the public good.
Perhaps Pyke’s most accurate prediction was that “bicycle power will once again become important in its own right.”
We need to create a vision of a future we actively want to strive for
The next five years are critical for the future of the planet: will the UK lead the way on de-carbonising transport?
We are trapped in a circular argument and phasing in a Workplace Parking Levy is possibly the only way to break this deadlock.
Consider whether replacing a car with car club membership could save you money!
Is there anyone who thinks that local government in Cambridgeshire is functioning well?
Why would you support a congestion charge? Probably because the journey time is sufficiently shortened or you’re given a better value alternative to driving.
Have traffic flows reverted to how they were before the summer? Interestingly, not everywhere.
You may have heard of ‘Mobility as a Service’ and ‘micromobility’, but what exactly do these mean?
On-street parking is about safety, fair access to a limited communal asset, and the right to clean air.
Almost nothing the Greater Cambridge Partnership has delivered in nearly five years has increased people’s travel options. That needs to change.
For now, we have no choice but to reduce our energy consumption by travelling less and, instead of driving, using more energy-efficient transport modes
Had the Greater Cambridge Partnership invested in smart traffic signalling technology in 2016, the network would now be more resilient to roadworks and seasonal variations in travel demand.
We cannot keep kicking the can down the road. We have to make big changes, some of which will be painful and unpopular.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s Local Transport Plan could drag us back into making the mistakes of the 20th century.
How today's young people are using the opportunities given to them to research and propose fixes to the problems around us.
Greater Anglia's new trains' most innovative feature is level boarding from the platform. Why isn’t it universal on our railways?
There’s a consultation (yes, another one) on the region’s most important transport strategy document.
It is difficult to draw firm conclusions even from a rich data set like this
Where else might we find a permanent home for a coach station, with excellent connectivity to the city and surrounding villages, and all the facilities you’d expect to find at a city train station?
Why Transport for New Homes' checklist needs to be translated into robust legislation, and why citizens need to demand that it gets more funding.
Using terminology precisely and consistently is important in public debate. ‘Travel hub’ is not a euphemism for ‘Park & Ride’
This really is different from the forums and workshops used to date.
Ghent is an interesting comparator for Cambridge: a bold transport plan has all but removed cars from the medieval city centre.
What would make the bigger difference: another 2,500 people using Park & Ride or 55,000 more people using buses in the region?
The planned south east approach to Cambridge appears to miss the two main out of town employment sites, and the villages on the way.
At a recent open event, staff were refreshingly honest about the shortcomings of Stagecoach’s service in recent times
On every single metric, the ‘preferred’ option scores worse than all scenarios considered, including not building the P&R!
Citizens’ Assemblies to date have produced recommendations that are well-supported by the populations they represent.
In this case, the popular option is also the right one.
The transport system is poorly designed for over half of the population – we need to change this.
Let’s learn from Mill Road closure, and use it as a template for running experimental closures elsewhere in the city.
How closely do you think highway planners and engineers adhere to this?
We need more train and bus services, an extensive network of cycleways, and for towns and villages to be walkable.
Assertions in Network Rail’s assessment of rail needs for the next 25 years beggar belief.
Public Health England recommends targeting pollution hotspots and areas which have more vulnerable people.
Somebody should be obligated to pay to provide really good public transport.
Even if a computer can drive the bus, it doesn’t mean we won’t need any staff on board.
We need a plan for our region, not just Cambridge, that is bigger and more holistic than anything produced to date.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership would do well to talk with the team at Leeds City Council
A new urban hub would alleviate pressure within the existing medieval centre, and offer alternative spaces
GCP needs to come and talk to all of the affected communities around the Campus – now
How technology could be transformational and sustainable for the whole region
What can we do to encourage, support or force Stagecoach to up its game?
There is an obvious conflict with the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s flagship project, the Cambourne–Cambridge Busway.
Let's hope politicians share this sense of urgency and support radical but practical changes along the lines we have suggested.
We are still planning and building as if the future will be only slightly different from 30 years ago.
We can add zebra crossings at side road junctions easily. Manchester is already leading the way on this.
How much greater would the benefits be if the space was used for wider footways, continuously protected cycleways, more trees and sustainable drainage?
The biggest problem stems from an accounting practice that makes a hard distinction between capital and operating expenditure.
Be the change you want to see in the world – and use the power of community to multiply your influence.
For the large majority of people who access the station on foot, the proposed changes will significantly worsen their experience.
Answers are always promised, but when these arrive, they resolve little and pose more questions.
For the money being proposed, we could give each P&R user thirteen years of unlimited bus travel throughout Cambridgeshire.
‘Travel hubs’, a few miles out, require far less capital expense, and give better access to the old, the young, those without cars and those who simply don’t wish to drive.
Virtually no electric vehicle infrastructure placement advice has been written.
You can let politicians know you want a change of course for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway.
The Combined Authority and GCP should be reinventing the Busway Smartcard to work county-wide with all bus operators.
Liveable neighbourhoods mean stronger communities and better quality of life for all who live in them.
Would excluding motor traffic from more of the city centre make it more accessible, more enjoyable and safer?
Start thinking and discussing with friends and colleagues what kind of city centre you want for Cambridge.
It's a popular fallacy that increasing motorway speed limits would help drivers get to their destination more quickly
The public wants a safe, regulated taxi service and the industry wants to provide it.
Trying to figure out why transport economics so often fails to feed good policies to politicians...
How did our local politicians allow us to be steamrollered into accepting this scale of growth?
There is one last chance to make this space right. People need to lobby Brookgate now.
Those over retirement age are entitled to a free bus pass; what would it cost to extend this to everyone?
The whole service provision needs redesigning – as is happening now in Dublin.
When people ‘reclaim the streets’ from motor vehicles, it’s one of the highlights of the city’s calendar
Actual costs and benefits would have given the Guided Busway a ‘poor value for money’ rating, which would not have qualified for taxpayer funding.
The social and environmental benefits of radically improving rural bus services far outweigh those of Park & Rides.
Neither the Greater Cambridge Partnership nor the Combined Authority has a plan to transform bus services across the region.
We can build an extensive public transport network now using buses. Here's how.
You might expect the council's Highways team would forbid pavement blocking by building contractors at critical sites.
Residents, councillors and the Conservation officer have all asked for the minimum signage of ‘Parking Permit Areas’ in Newnham.
We just need politicians, council officers and bus operators to sit down together and agree to make this happen.
Pollution causes about 40,000 deaths per year in the UK, but a century-old technology is coming to the rescue.
Before trying to knock a few minutes off bus journey times, we need to understand that the quality of the journey experience is arguably more important to people
Planned well, franchising could deliver a Swiss-style integrated, comprehensive public bus service.
Better enforcement of straightforward regulations would reduce congestion and make streets safer for all.
The mayor’s recently-published Interim Transport Strategy Statement re-confirms his ambitions for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The County Council has voted to move its base from Castle Hill in Cambridge to Alconbury Weald. It's a done deal.
Why increasing road capacity with more lanes just buys time ...and worse, the business case for the sustainable stuff evaporates
It's a question which can be asked about many roads, but in this case the reason may be history as much as any lack of care by the County Council.
Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) published a report in March that deserves more attention than its uninspiring title and status suggest.
The Ely Southern Bypass is £21m over its original budget. We should be extremely wary of funding large infrastructure projects from council borrowing not covered by new income streams.
What’s the answer? We’ve been shouting it from the rooftops for nearly three years.
Significant delays or cancellations within a bus operator’s control should be penalised in a way that benefits users.
Less variability in journey times is not actually what most people who use buses complain about. Missing a connection because of delay is a big headache. It’s why people don’t like having to change buses.
A conservative extrapolation from the St Ives busway to the Haverhill railway provides a forecast of about 4.5m trips/year. So why isn’t reopening the railway still under consideration?
5,000 new jobs are coming to the Biomedical Campus by the middle of next year, with no extra transport provision for them.
One Ticket, One Network, One Brand here will do more to achieve modal shift than rolling out some red tarmac for a few buses a day.
Let's see action on interventions that can make a difference now, while the Combined Authority gets the longer term strategy right.
London does integrated transport pretty well. Arguably Singapore does it better. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's mayor can learn from both.
Imagine a gate at the end of your driveway that opens only once every 30 minutes. You cannot apply a private motorist's mentality to shaping public transport policy.
For South Cambridgeshire residents, what's needed are attractive, comfortable, reliable and flexible public transport options from close to where people live.
The Mayor has maintained that buses aren't the answer for the Cambridge area, so the consultants have wheeled out something vaguely called a 'metro'.
There's a plan to re-route the A10 via a bridge or underpass and close the level crossing at Foxton. Unfortunately, as with Skanska's proposal for Whittlesford, the scope is too narrow.
Whittlesford has a neglected station with poor access. Upgraded to 'Parkway' status in 2007, it still lacks basic facilities like toilets or a bridge between the platforms suitable for people with limited mobility.
Investing in new road capacity is expensive, environmentally damaging, and usually only a temporary solution. A distance-based HGV levy plus more investment in railways would achieve a much better outcome.
How Cambridge North, the future south station, and the main station can form the backbone of a ‘Cambridge Overground’ metro within five years.
Smarter Cambridge Transport is growing, and in 2018 we'll continue to put forward the ideas and ask the questions. Here's how.
Smarter Cambridge Transport came together to advance integrated, innovative and sustainable transport ideas. So, how have we done?
Confusion and blame-passing is almost daily between Planning (City Council) and Highways (County Council). We deserve better.
Are we using the County Council’s Long Term Transport Plan or not? The GCP and the mayor can't pick and choose.
You maybe didn’t realise it at the time, but in 2014 you agreed to the County Council’s Long Term Transport Strategy.
It's almost as if a deliberate effort has been made to put off every mode of transport which we should be encouraging.
The guided busway between Trumpington Park & Ride and Cambridge station is underused. How could we make more use of it?
GCP indicate that they will publish the raw data from their recent traffic survey in 2018. Why is it taking so long to release?
The Grafton Centre itself is undergoing a facelift, but the area needs more than that. These are some additional ideas we’ve submitted to the consultation.
Most people - and governments - are barely considering the implications of this revolution, but we should be. This is all going to happen much sooner than most of us think.
A charge which would remain affordable to HGV operators could deter unnecessary peak-time movements and raise a substantial amount of money from others.
The new Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Big Conversation is a welcome initiative, even if it must be their last chance to get things right.
The authorities can take advantage of the expertise offered by the people they represent. Or they can spend their time arguing with us.
The 'Metrominuto' map looks just like an underground map, showing lines of differing colours connecting different points of interest in the city.
The ‘spine’ of the new airport development should be a green corridor, ideal for walking and cycling, and it must be available from day one.
When did it first become acceptable for drivers to simply stop and leave their vehicles along one or both sides of the road?
Greenways will help reduce congestion and play a part in ensuring economic growth is sustainable. This is an investment which everyone can support.
Notice what’s missing in discussion about tunnels? Any mention of people. Forgive me repeating myself, but transport is about moving people (and goods) not vehicles.
There is one feature of the local government system that’s simple: politicians set policy; officers advise and deliver. So who should people lobby?
The councils’ strategy for coping with growth is to have many more people commute by bus, but there’s no strategy yet for how to accommodate all the extra buses in the city.
We don't want Cambridge to one day be laughed at as the last place in Britain to splash concrete everywhere before breakthroughs in transport technology and organisation solved unpredictable journey times forever...
Much has been discussed about major upgrades for busy rural roads. But we need to reduce crashes, save lives, and make rural travel safer for those in cars, on cycles, on horses and by foot on the 99% of rural roads...
You probably know you can get a guided bus from Cambridge to Huntingdon? It takes 1hr 7mins. You can save yourself 14 minutes by catching the Whippet X3, which runs via Cambourne and Papworth – yes, via Cambourne. Take...
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is deeply mired in complexity and controversy over building a busway from Cambourne, an orbital link to Addenbrooke’s, and a new Park & Ride west of Cambridge. It has spent...
Despite valiant efforts by the new team leading the Milton Road City Deal scheme, their ‘Final Concept’ still fails the 8-80 age test for cycling and provides much less green space than the community-backed ‘Do Optimum’...
The sudden and unexpected withdrawal of Grosvenor’s planning application for a sporting village and 520 houses south of Trumpington Meadows has created an opportunity. Some years ago the County Council negotiated a deal...
Groningen, Oldenburg, Ghent, Hasselt, Bogotá and Algiers did it years ago. Houston and Seattle did it recently. Dublin is doing it now. Cambridge isn’t. But it should be. Houston, Texas radically simplified its bus...
Long ago when I worked in traffic research, I spent many days on cold street corners, counting traffic at junctions. I saw the first use of transponders on buses to ‘advance’ a green phase at traffic lights over 40...
We’ve been hearing a lot recently about an ‘Advanced Very Rapid Transit’ system for the Greater Cambridge area using ‘bullet buses’ travelling at up to 120mph. The City Deal press release used the words ‘cutting-edge’...
Recently local politicians have called for Cambridge’s Park & Ride car parks to be free again, and MPs have called for hospital car parks to be made free. ‘Free’ means somebody else is paying, in this case taxpayers...
Twenty years ago, I found myself working in my company’s Manchester office for a week. One morning, the regional sales manager and I had an appointment in the city centre. In our suits and carrying briefcases, we...
If we want to make Cambridge railway station less car dependent, what more could we do to promote walking, cycling and bus travel? Many visitors arriving at the station take a taxi simply because other options are...
You may be aware that Murdoch House, on the corner of Cambridge’s Station Square, is set to be replaced, but did you know that more buildings are planned to go up on the car park? Initial designs (currently being...
The Dutch are well-known for their high-quality cycleways. They also do a very good job of running public transport. First, they have OV-chipkaart, a national smart card that lets you tap-and-go on just about any train...
Aren’t you just loving the 2017 election season? In the local elections, we had weeks of talk about headline-grabbing transport infrastructure projects. Most candidates stated an ambition to solve the region’s transport...
Green belt land has two purposes: preserving countryside for future generations, and preventing urban sprawl. Unfortunately our green belt protection policies are failing to prevent sprawl, and endangering the...
In the excellent Urban Transport Without The Hot Air by Steve Melia, there’s a study that has important implications for Cambridge and Cambourne. Ivybridge is a small town in Devon, just under 10 miles from Plymouth...
One of the great frustrations with transport planning in the UK is that it is easier, quicker and often cheaper for a local authority to build a new road than it is for the same local authority, Network Rail and train...
It’s time to change the way ‘consultation’ works (or doesn’t). Currently, residents might learn about a council project for the first time from an invitation to a ‘briefing’. Those who have time and inclination to...
The argument for dualling the A10 from Ely is that it requires more capacity to cope with population growth; that slow commute times put fewer jobs within commuting distance and reduce economic productivity (though, for...
As long ago as 1924 it was realised that building new roads attracts additional traffic. In 1994 the Government Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment confirmed this in a landmark report, which led to the...
The County Council highways committee voted last week to pass a new policy on neighbourhood parking – to be precise, they passed half a policy. New types of permit will be available, including for tradespeople, doctors...
By the time you read this, the City Deal will have rubber-stamped funding for the set-up of neighbourhood parking schemes in Cambridge and beyond. While this policy was being developed, one such scheme was already going...
Those who don’t understand public transport don’t use it. Bus operators and local authorities all over the world could help themselves by giving passengers the sort of usability we take for granted on metro...
The Bus Services Bill allows the mayor here in Cambridgeshire to adopt London-style franchising of bus services. This is a golden opportunity for innovation.
I haven’t met many people who fully grasp how big the Addenbrooke’s site (the Biomedical Campus) will become. It already hosts 15,000 employees, but the total could be double that, or 30,000, by 2030. To put things in...
You will know that the City Deal has plans (“but no decisions have been made yet”) to build a busway from Cambourne to Cambridge, to add more bus lanes to Milton Road, and to build a bus lane on Histon Rd between King’s...
Cambridge’s MP and all three voting members of the City Deal Executive Board have called for the £1 parking charge at Park & Ride sites to be removed. The intention is good, but the policy is wrong. The seven...
A refrain running through many of the questions to the City Deal is, “Where is the vision?” When Smarter Cambridge Transport put this question to the board last week, the audience was treated to three slides with vision...
Clean air. Who’s going to argue against that? None of us wants to breathe in dirty, life-shortening air. The figure of 47 deaths per year attributable to air pollution locally, cited recently on Cambridge Independent’s...
A quiz for you: how many cars do you think drive into Cambridge most weekdays? What proportion are looking to park on the streets for free? If we incentivised people not to do this, would it make a difference? We now...
Transport planning is like economics: many competing theories, a tendency to examine measurable things (like traffic) and ignore the actors (people), and limited success in making accurate predictions. Traditionally...
Think of a mayor. Perhaps Boris Johnson springs to mind? A man whose pre-Brexit legacy was to start a cycling revolution in London: ‘Boris bikes’ and cycle superhighways. Maybe Rudy Giuliani? Famous for Zero Tolerance...
Have you thought about New Year’s Resolutions? Well, here are a few suggestions: 1. Get fit and save money: no need to buy gym membership; just fit walking and maybe cycling into your daily routine. Maybe try not...
Sometimes we don’t appreciate what a great example Santa Claus sets. All those presents from his toymakers are gathered together at a single distribution centre. Elves group the deliveries by chimney, and these...
Before Victoria Coren claimed ownership of “Only Connect,” it was E M Forster’s, extolling humans’ need to for connection. It’s also a pretty good motto for public transport: we spend a lot of time talking about cars...
Did you know that air pollution kills an estimated 40,000 people across the UK every year? That compares with 1,800 road deaths. In October nine Royal Colleges of Medicine launched the Breath of Fresh Air initiative...
“I’ll be with you in a minute. I’m listening to the mayor on the radio.” On 5 May 2017, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will join a handful of cities and regions with powers and money devolved from government. The...
The recently formed National Infrastructure Commission has published its report on the Cambridge–Milton Keynes–Oxford corridor. It identifies a chronic shortage of housing as the greatest risk to growth. Unsurprisingly...
There has been great interest in the light rail scheme proposed by Cambridge Connect. It’s obvious why: rail services are easy to understand, reliable, safe, comfortable and usually come with high quality stations...
It’s notoriously hard to keep track of developments in ‘Greater Cambridge’. Each of the three councils and the City Deal has its own website, none of which can be described as particularly user friendly. All four bodies...
Streets make up three-quarters of the open space of a City. They can be famously beautiful like the Backs on Queens Road, or they could be chic ‘zones’ in a new residential area. Good streets should be practical, safe...
Successful businesses are built on the maxim “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. So imagine for a moment that one of Cambridge’s world-leading businesses instituted a project which overran its budget by...
Does your neighbourhood resemble ‘Parking Wars’, the recent ITV show featuring Cambridge? Are your streets magnets for commuters, making life difficult for you, your visitors, tradespeople and carers? Streets...
[This article has been edited as the event has now passed] The Greater Cambridge City Deal: was there ever an initiative in Cambridge that united so many disparate groups of people against it, for so many different...
The City Deal is proposing spending a £142m on a new road for buses from Cambourne to Cambridge. That might seem like a good idea, especially if you live in Cambourne, Highfields Caldecote or Hardwick and commute into...