The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has now spent over £100 million on transport schemes since the City Deal was signed in 2014. It’s also nearly five years since Smarter Cambridge Transport published its 10-Point Plan. How much of that has GCP delivered?
GCP is making progress with the Greenways and the Chisholm Trail; Cambridge has a few more cycle lanes, Residents’ Parking Zones and some Smart City data.
But this is a small fraction of what we believed could and should have been delivered by now to give people in Greater Cambridge more and better travel options.
Most of that £100 million has gone to consultants to work up and rework plans for schemes like the Cambourne to Cambridge busway (£9 million to date); a western orbital bus route, downscaled to a P&R car park at Hauxton (£19 million to date); a car park by the A11 linked to the Biomedical Campus by a busway (£13 million to date); and repeated restatements of the same ideas, but no action, to reduce traffic and pollution in Cambridge (£9 million to date).
Frustratingly, had the City Deal provided just £50 million rather than £500 million, council officers would not have been able to pursue grandiose schemes for busways and massive car parks. These were anachronisms in 2014. Now they’re utterly irrelevant. The West Midlands Combined Authority has stopped work on all but one of its new Park & Rides and will probably mothball the other.
The climate crisis in particular requires much more radical change than enabling a few thousand more car commuters to transfer to a bus outside Cambridge. We have to reduce total vehicle-mileage by more than 50% in the next nine years. That requires us to make more efficient use of the roads we already have, not build more of them. It requires safe end-to-end infrastructure for those of us who are able and willing to walk, cycle or e-scooter.
The coming elections are an opportunity to turn things around. Don’t be one of the “silent majority”: tell candidates canvassing for your vote that you want your money to be spent differently.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 3 March 2021.
Some of this could have been spent on providing electric vehicle charging points for taxis and buses at key locations and loans and subsidies for purchase of those vehicles.
Investment in suburban and rural high speed internet would also reduce the demand for commuting.
Better security for bicycle parking would encourage cyclists, like not actually ignoring bicycle thieves, might actually help.
Future proofing transport infrastructure for safe eCargo Bike deliveries.
Flat, wide traffic free, Dutch quality paths will also be attractive to mobility scooter users.
All new housing to be built with safe, secure cycle storage fitted with sockets for ebike charging.
The existing public transport we have could be so much better,
For example, there’s endless calls to reopen the railway to Haverhill, yet the existing half hourly bus service is one of the few to go via Hills Road instead of via the railway station.
And when, as a stranger to Cambridge, you walk 10 minutes in the rain to the Botanic Gardens bus stop, you discover the timetable in the bus stop is months out of date.
The 1 hour 10 minute journey via every traffic-clogged housing estate in Haverhill can’t be much of an incentive to leave the car at home either!