Smarter Cambridge Transport

Our Cambridge South West Park & Ride consultation response

Overview

Smarter Cambridge Transport does not support any of the proposed options for expansion of Trumpington P&R or building a second site at Hauxton. We believe instead that the short-term focus should be on improving rural bus services; and in the longer term, to identify a single site to serve as a gateway to Cambridge for people travelling from beyond the local transport network (rail, ‘metro’ and bus) in South and East Cambridgeshire.

Objections

Trumpington P&R

We do not believe that the existing site at Trumpington is appropriate for a P&R now that the village has enveloped it. It is a waste of valuable lane; it’s an eyesore; it’s an attractor of traffic and pollution into Trumpington village; and it contributes significantly to congestion and additional pollution on Hauxton/Trumpington Rd, especially in the evening peak, when vehicles exiting the P&R hold up traffic (including buses) on Trumpington Rd.

Expansion of the site would exacerbate all of the above concerns. It is not a satisfactory long-term resolution of the city’s transport needs.

Hauxton P&R

We understand that it makes sense to site a second P&R on the opposite side of the M11 to minimise crossings and delays at the M11 interchange. However, this assumes that drivers arriving from the south and west will not aim for the Trumpington site in the early morning, filling that site before the peak. If that happens, then traffic from the north will have to cross the interchange and enter the Hauxton site.

Anyone who does choose to use the site that is quickest to access from the M11 or A10 in the morning, will have to cross the interchange when they go home in the evening, so congestion around the interchange is likely to be a problem in the evening peak.

Of the two options proposed for the public transport link, one is very expensive; the other will add a significant amount of time to the bus/metro journey, and create conflict with other users of the agricultural bridge, including people walking and cycling over it to avoid the interchange.

Eliminated options

In the initial sifting of options, all four quadrants of the interchange were considered as possible sites. However, they were considered only as a complement to the existing site. They should have been appraised as solo sites too.

Trumpington Road

We do not support widening city roads to add bus lanes. The priority for city highways should be to create generous provision for walking and cycling, the most space-efficient modes of transport. A variety of techniques may be used in preference to bus lanes to reduce congestion and give buses priority over general traffic:

  • Integrate traffic signals with bus transponders to give buses a ‘green wave’.
  • Implement Inbound Flow Control to regulate traffic inflow and provide bus priority at the city edges.
  • Regulate outflow from car parks, including P&R sites, to reduce interruptions to outbound traffic in the evening peak.
  • Rigorously enforce illegal and obstructive parking.

A10

The A10 running through Harston carries an intolerable level of traffic for a village high street. The VISSIM video of the route is in no way an accurate representation of the current situation (see below). The data used for modelling the impacts of these changes needs to be opened to scrutiny.

The combination of an attractive new Park & Ride, accessed directly from the A10 before the M11, and the planned grade-separated crossing of the railway at Foxton are likely to severely exacerbate congestion, pollution and safety for residents in Harston. This must be addressed now, not after there is a commitment to build the P&R.

What is the purpose of a Park & Ride?

This fundamental question has not been answered: who is Park & Ride intended to serve? The Combined Authority has made its position clear on Park & Rides: that they will undermine the attractiveness, viability and effectiveness of the planned ‘metro’. Substitute ‘rural bus services’ for ‘metro’, and it this assertion is just as true.

Academic and professional studies of Park & Ride have identified two unwanted side effects:

  • Abstraction of patronage from rural bus services
  • Increased congestion on roads feeding into the Park & Ride

In other words, Park & Ride displaces congestion from Cambridge city to the necklace villages, and reduces the quality (frequency and hours) of rural bus services from rural Cambridgeshire into the city. We have seen how reduced patronage and increasing delays from congestion has gradually decimated rural services. The loss of rural bus services is exaggerating inequalities by cutting poorer people off from employment and social contact. Park & Ride serves only those people who have access to a car; compared with rural bus services, it is inherently socially divisive and reduces social mobility.

The headline ambition of the Greater Cambridge Partnership is to attract people away from space-inefficient private cars onto buses and cycles. That is best achieved by promoting a network of rural travel hubs, linking local, feeder, community and express bus services to major employment and other key sites in and around Cambridge.

Park & Ride sites around Cambridge should primarily serve people who cannot reasonably be expected to use public transport from closer to home. Sites should be close to the M11 and A14 so as to minimise localised congestion, viz:

  • M11 Junction 11 (Trumpington)
  • Girton Interchange (linked via the A1307 to the A14 and A428)
  • A14 Junction 35 (Stow-cum-Quy)

Recommendations

GCP should publish all available data for scrutiny, including:

  • all-mode traffic flows along the A10, M11, Hauxton Rd, Trumpington High St, Trumpington Rd and Addenbrooke’s Rd;
  • origin-destination data for Trumpington P&R, the Biomedical Campus and Cambridge station;
  • bus patronage data for P&R, southern Busway and rural services;
  • rail patronage data and direction of travel from Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth and Royston stations.

Short-term measures

GCP should be identifying and delivering every possible ‘quick win’ to facilitate bus travel, walking and cycling to the Biomedical Campus, railway station and city centre.

Thousands more staff, patients and visitors will be moving on and off the Biomedical Campus each day as Papworth Hospital, AstraZeneca, Abcam, the new children’s hospital, and other sites open over the coming months and years. The need to facilitate access to the Biomedical Campus by space-efficient modes (bus, walking and cycling) is now not just urgent; it’s an emergency.

We set out a number of ‘quick wins’ in our response to the Cambridge South East Transport Study consultation that are relevant to this consultation. We urge GCP to act quickly on at least the following:

  1. Incentivise bus operators to make more use of the busway rather than Hills Rd. Reducing or eliminating access and/or departure fees could be components of a mutually agreeable quality partnership agreement.
  2. Work with bus operators to run higher quality bus services (more frequent, more hours, all days) from South Cambridgeshire to the city centre, Biomedical Campus and Cambridge railway station.
  3. Work with operators to offer a range of all-operator bus passes at prices that are close to single-operator equivalents. Consider having GCP subsidise some or all of the ticket price premium. This will give people more flexibility and will stimulate competition and innovation from operators that cannot currently compete with Stagecoach.
  4. Reintroduce parking charges at P&R sites to regain a vital revenue stream.
  5. Divert the £600,000 that GCP is currently paying to subsidise P&R parking to invest instead in public transport.
  6. Install combined parking and bus ticket machines that are as user-friendly as possible, and issue both parking and a choice of bus tickets, including all-operator day passes.
  7. Offer customers the option to pay for P&R parking and bus tickets via an easy-to-use phone app.
  8. Give P&R users options to pay for parking other than on arrival (e.g. before departure or within 24 hours), removing a significant inconvenience and cause of stress when a bus is about to leave.
  9. Reconfigure the road layout around Hauxton Rd-Shelford Rd and Waitrose junctions to enable buses to use the busway parallel to Old Mills Rd. This could enable buses to gain priority access to Trumpington High St from the P&R, bypassing up to 500m of queuing traffic (50-80 vehicles).

There is considerable misunderstanding about whether it is desirable to charge or not for parking at P&R sites. Though it does incentivise people to use P&R rather than driving, it also incentivises people to use P&R rather than their local bus service, undermining the viability of rural services. Parking fees are a vital source of revenue for local authorities: the £1 P&R fee raised £1.2m each year (which will grow as usage increases). Rather than subsidising parking, this money should be reinvested to support sustainable transport, e.g. to subsidise bus services that are not commercially viable, but which have significant social and environmental benefits.

GCP is currently paying £600,000 per year to the County Council to subsidise P&R parking; the County Council is paying the balance of about £600,000 to manage and maintain the P&R sites. This £1.2m is about two thirds of the 2018–19 budget for subsidising rural bus services in the whole of Cambridgeshire.

Medium-term measures

GCP should re-appraise the four possible sites around the M11 interchange as stand-alone Park & Rides, replacing the existing site at Trumpington. All options must be examined openly, honestly and objectively with the full participation of all stakeholders if they are to trust and accept the final decision.

The single Park & Ride site should have the following characteristics:

  • Adjacent to the M11 interchange.
  • Adequate long-term capacity for coaches and cars, based on demand that cannot reasonably be met by more direct train and rural bus services.
  • Designed to a standard befitting a major gateway to Cambridge.
  • Landscaped to minimise visual intrusion in the green belt.

It should be served by a mass transit link with the following characteristics:

  • Fast, frequent shuttle services to the city centre, Biomedical Campus and Cambridge railway station.
  • Operating hours spanning at least 5:30am to 11:30pm.
  • Capacity sufficient to meet the morning peak demand with an acceptable degree of crowding/congestion, and to carry coach-loads of visitors (tourists, schools and others).
  • Time-dependent pricing to spread peak demand, by disincentivising visitors and tourists from travelling at the same time as commuters.

The combined cost of Park & Ride should be anchored to the cost of taking an express bus from a local travel hub in South and East Cambridgeshire, so that the perceived price difference favours the latter.

Wider considerations

Any new Park & Ride on the A10/Hauxton Rd must be planned in conjunction with other planned changes along the A10, including a grade-separated crossing of the railway at Foxton. The implications of East-West rail should become apparent in the next few months. Other considerations include:

Meldreth station

Expand parking provision at Meldreth station to balance demand with Foxton and intercept some car trips closer to Royston. Meldreth has a large catchment population and could serve Bassingbourn and the Barracks better than Royston station, which is highly constrained.

Harston bypass

If growth in traffic on the A10 cannot realistically be suppressed in the long term by enhanced public transport alternatives, then plans must be developed now for a bypass around Harston, so that it can be factored into all other schemes along the A10, including a new Park & Ride site. Any such scheme must not create additional road capacity, which would induce more traffic and create new pressures in the road network.

Shortlisted options should include routes to the north and to the south of Harston. Of the possible southern routes, one we would like to flag up for consideration is to divert the A10 from Foxton along the south-east side of the railway to London Rd (B1368), which connects back to the A10. This would take traffic over the railway on the existing London Rd bridge, avoiding the expense of building a new one. Foxton station car park could be sited close to the station, just off the re-routed A10. We have not consulted with residents of London Rd, and so do not offer this as anything more than a design option for appraisal.

If the A10 were diverted in this way, the level crossing at Foxton could be retained as a disincentive to using it as a through route. A pedestrian/cycle underpass should be added to enhance local connectivity. Given the much lower height clearance required for a cycle underpass, this woul¬¬d be far cheaper and less disruptive than a road underpass.

Little Shelford station

When Cambridge South opens, there will be concern that it and Greater Shelford stations are impractically close together (from a railway operations point of view). One answer could be to open a new station on the Royston line at Little Shelford off Hauxton Rd. This would have a large catchment area, being under 15 minutes by cycle from homes in Great Shelford, Little Shelford, Stapleford, Hauxton, Harston and Newton. A good bus service connecting Sawston and the Biomedical Campus via Great Shelford would ensure residents of the Shelfords and Stapleford continue to have access to Liverpool St train services at Cambridge South station.

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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