We’ve argued for some time that the south east (A1307) approach to Cambridge needs a proven, rail-based solution, not a busway promising technology that doesn’t seem to exist. There may be a greater problem though: does the project even go where it needs to?
The original idea of this route was to serve the three business and research sites of Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Granta Park and Babraham Research Campus. It was called the ‘Three Campuses’ project and still appears as such on GCP documentation which hasn’t been updated to the ‘Cambridge South East Transport’ name. It is still planned to end at the Biomedical Campus (although getting through that to the city centre is another issue). But the route appears to miss the other two employment sites by a distance, while also failing to serve the villages on the way (unless their stops are designed from the outset as true local travel hubs).
For example, the proposed busway looks like it would be 600m from the back gate of Babraham Research Campus and 1.1km from the hall and conference centre. The closest existing bus stop is typically 900m away from most of Babraham Research Campus and is hardly used. Experience shows that commuters do not want to walk across dark fields, as we know from the separation of Meldreth station and Melbourn Science Park.
Additionally, the difficulty of crossing the A505 and A11, to extend the service in time to Haverhill, must be solved up front, not kicked down the road.
Nobody seems to be thinking about how people use public transport. One impact of the project may be to shift people who use an existing bus on the current routes for their whole trip to drive to the Park & Ride. This would hit the No.13 service particularly hard.
The existing No.7 serves Gt Shelford, Stapleford and Sawston; let’s start now by making improvements to that service – local people have a lot of good ideas. We should provide a sensible alternative for the many people from these three villages who currently drive to Babraham or Trumpington Park & Ride sites.
Our task is to connect the places we live and work with a transport system we want to use. We appear to be failing on both counts.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 12 June 2019. Our recommendations in detail for this part of the region may be found in our response to the first Greater Cambridge consultation.