Smarter Cambridge Transport

Reorganising buses is all the rage

Groningen, Oldenburg, Ghent, Hasselt, Bogotá and Algiers did it years ago. Houston and Seattle did it recently. Dublin is doing it now. Cambridge isn’t. But it should be.

Houston, Texas radically simplified its bus network in 2015. The aim was to provide a more frequent service on key routes, more weekend services, and better connections to rail services. A year later, bus ridership was already up 1.2% and METRO ridership up 7%. This increase was at a time when most US cities saw a significant decline in patronage.

Dublin is boldly “reimagining” its network and surveying residents about what kind of service they’d like. The National Transport Authority is asking people what they think about frequency of service, interchanging, and making the network design memorable. It’s also explaining how a simplified, higher frequency network can provide faster journey times, even with a change of bus en route. It’s worth a look:

The Bus Services Act empowers our new combined authority to design and franchise services for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. So now’s the perfect time to start consulting and planning a reorganisation of our own bus services to meet many more people’s needs.

Here’s one idea for starters:

Replace the Drummer St terminus with a linear bus station around the inner ring road. Buses from South Cambridgeshire all turn right when they reach the inner ring, circulate once around the city, then leave the way they came. As a passenger you have three options:

  1. Get out at the nearest point to your destination and walk.
  2. Get out at one of maybe three stops where there’s a cycle park and hire centre, and complete your journey by bike.
  3. Get out anywhere on the inner ring and catch the next bus headed to your destination, either a South Cambs bus going out on a radial road, or a local bus serving other destinations in and around the city.

If buses are frequent enough and there’s no cost penalty for changing buses, then many more people will find at least one of those options works for them.

This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 5 July 2017. Further detail may be found in our papers on Buses and Travel Hubs.

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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