Smarter Cambridge Transport

Not a lot to see for £100 million spent on transport

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.

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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