Smarter Cambridge Transport

Do I have to take a taxi from the station?

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.

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.

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