Currently about 130 buses arrive in Cambridge city centre between 8am and 9am. That’s over 4 buses a minute entering and leaving the Drummer Street area to move just 8% of everyone travelling into the city.
The councils’ strategy for coping with growth is to have many more people commute by bus, but there’s no strategy yet for how to accommodate all the extra buses in the city.
Smarter Cambridge Transport proposes taking most buses out of the Drummer St area and having them circulate the inner ring road instead. This would take big buses off streets unsuited to their size and weight (such as Magdalene/Bridge St, Silver St, Pembroke/Downing St and Hobson St). It would also make interchanging quicker and easier to reach all parts of the city.
Drummer St bus station would be released from its dreary existence to be an attractive public space once more (it was carved out of Christ’s Pieces in 1925 and 1991).
I have a personal suggestion for what to do with it. There’s a crying need for public open space around Market Square. If you don’t want to join the tourists taking selfies on the wall in front of King’s, you have to walk to Christ’s Pieces or Jesus Green to find somewhere pleasant to sit and eat your lunch or chat with a friend. So imagine if the market were relocated from Market Square to the bus station, both similar sizes. The square would then be freed up to be a true civic centre, alive by day and evening. Landscaped imaginatively, it could serve as a space for meeting and relaxing, as well as for pop-up film screenings, a Christmas market, carol singing, public demonstrations, and so on. Over the years there have been many proposals to redesign Market Square as a multifunctional space. But it has proved impossible to create consensus on what to do and to secure funding. Might this be the answer?
I hope we can have a public debate about repurposing Drummer St bus station – but first we need to get the transport strategy right.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 23 August 2017.