Smarter Cambridge Transport responded to the consultation about the Universal bus service with the following observations and suggestions:
1. U route options
We are strongly supportive of proposals to increase the coverage of the service. We would like the survey to have also asked about hours of service.
1.1 Frequency and fare
The questions of price v frequency will depend on what users are wiling to pay for what level of service and how much money the university is prepared to invest long-term. The optimal trade-off can only be evaluated with a properly-constructed stated preference survey.
1.2 Homerton College
We understand that students and staff at Homerton college would value a service running directly to West Cambridge. This would potentially fit with proposals 2.1 to 2.4, in which half the services run along Hills Rd. However, it would be more efficient, and give Homerton passengers a more frequent and reliable service, if they could use a Stagecoach service between Hills Rd and Cambridge station, and change to/from the U service at the station (see point 3).
1.3 Girton Park & Ride
We urge Cambridge University to ask for the creation of a Park & Ride at the Girton Interchange. This would fit with the proposed extension of the U service past Girton to the first roundabout at the interchange. It would fill a gap in the P&R provision for people arriving from the north/north-west via the A14, for whom Milton P&R and Longstanton are relatively unattractive options.
2. Additional route
We are strongly supportive of the proposal to add this northern orbital service. We would like to see it introduced from the beginning of the next academic year (rather than July 2021): the sooner new options are introduced, the bigger will be the cumulative carbon reductions.
2.1 Cambridge North station terminus
We suggest that the service should terminate at Cambridge North station rather than Milton Park & Ride. This would better promote the most sustainable travel modes. It would also allow buses to avoid congestion around the Milton Interchange at peak times, which would add considerably to the journey time and hence, negatively impacting frequency and/or operating costs. Users of the Milton Park & Ride and Stagecoach 9 services could interchange with the U service at existing stops on Milton Rd/Cambridge Science Park (see point 3).
2.2 New bus stop on King Hedges Road
We recommend that Cambridge University co-fund with the County Council the creation of a new pair of bus stops on Kings Hedges Road opposite Allia. This would give a significant number of homes and businesses access to the proposed northern service, and an interchange point with the Citi 1 service (see point 3). The bus stops will require links to the nearest footways (see Figure 1). Ideally the footway on the northern side would be constructed along with a protected (off-road) cycle lane and floating bus stop.
2.3 Milton P&R pedestrian/cycle link
We ask Cambridge University to back the creation of a walking/cycling link from Milton P&R to the Guided Busway via the A14 underpass behind Cambridge Regional College (see Figure 2). Amongst other benefits, this would enable people to park-and-walk or park-and-cycle from Milton P&R to catch a U service. This would complement plans currently being developed for the Mere Way Cycle Route as part of the Waterbeach New Town (Urban & Civic) development – details of which may be found under Planning Application S/0559/17/OL: s106 – Part 09 – Mere Way Cycleway Plans.
3. Ticket-sharing arrangement
We strongly urge Cambridge University to negotiate a ticket-sharing agreement with Stagecoach. This would allow users to interchange between Stagecoach and U services without paying double the price or more for the inconvenience of interchanging. Many more people would then find it attractive and affordable to use buses to travel to West Cambridge and other destinations on the U route, interchanging at Addenbrooke’s bus station, Cambridge station and Eddington/Madingley P&R.
If the proposed additional University route also comes into service, interchanging would be most convenient at Cambridge North station (if point 2.1 is accepted), the Science Park, Kings Hedges Rd (see point 2.2) and Eddington/Madingley P&R.
This approach would be the most cost-efficient way for the University to expand public transport access to the University sites served by the U.
We also ask the University to express to the County Council and Combined Authority a desire for a regional multi-operator ticketing system as a longer-term solution to integrating public transport services.