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 unclear.
If you’re happy to walk, you need to know the way. There’s a finger sign outside the station with approximate walking times to a few destinations. It’s not the most eye-catching, and it’s partly obscured by the clock post. So, how about we use some S106 Public Art money to commission a scale model of Cambridge as a focal piece for the square and to help visitors to orientate themselves? The one outside Great St Mary’s Church is pretty popular.
If you’re happy to take a bus, you need to find the bus departure screen (not very prominent and not easy to read in bright sunlight) and know your Cambridge geography (does a bus to Arbury go via the city centre?) To find out what a ticket costs, you’ll have to ask the driver, possibly delaying the bus (and woe betide you if you’ve just arrived from Stansted Airport and have no cash or only £20 notes).
So let’s have a ‘next departure’ board for bus services to the city centre and Addenbrooke’s, some basic fare information, and a bus ticket vending machine that accepts cards. Could we also have cheaper return fares? (To the city centre it’s £3.40 for two singles; to Addenbrooke’s, it’s £5.40 unless you know to ask for a £4.30 Dayrider).
Let’s go a bit more radical and move the bus stops closer to the station entrance, reduce their number, and reconfigure the bays in a more compact, sawtooth pattern (as in the city centre). Then move the taxi rank out of the square to the other side of the bus stops.
Shrinking and re-shaping the taxi/drop-off area would give pedestrians more direct routes to the car park and Devonshire Rd. More importantly, it would free up space for a large bank of hire bikes, which is what’s needed to promote cycling to city visitors.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 31 May 2017.