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Cambridge Past, Present & Future puts forward an alternative to Cambridge to Cambourne busway

An alternative on-road solution for the Cambridge to Cambourne transport route has been submitted to an independent auditor.

James Littlewood - Chief Executive Cambridge Past, Present & Future. (45026056)
James Littlewood - Chief Executive Cambridge Past, Present & Future. (45026056)

The proposal from Cambridge Past, Present & Future seeks to demonstrate that a scheme can be delivered which prevents buses being stuck in traffic and delivers the same economic benefits at a much smaller cost.

Cambridge PPF, which has campaigned for an alternative to the £160m Cambourne to Cambridge busway, says its scheme could also be delivered more quickly with far less damage to the environment and local communities.

CEO James Littlewood said: “Throughout we have been frustrated that the Greater Cambridge Partnership has failed to produce a best option for an in-highway scheme, effectively giving the politicians only one option – a busway.”

Cambridge PFF teamed up with Edward Leigh, of Smarter Cambridge Transport, to come up with the proposal which raises “serious flaws” with the business case for the preferred route in light of the “significant uncertainties” surrounding other schemes most notably East West Rail, which is due to have a station at Cambourne.

Mr Littlewood added: “One of the reasons for the busway was trying to provide a mass transport scheme from Cambourne to Cambridge and a railway does exactly that. We thought at that point that the GCP would just take a step back and reconsider whether the busway was still the right thing to do, and they didn’t. Instead they came forward and said effectively because there’s no commitment to East West Rail at this stage we’re more or less going to ignore it and carry on.

“The work that we’ve done is to try and answer that question.”

The proposal looks at bus travel time data from 2019 which shows that the biggest problem is congestion inbound during the morning peak from Madingley Mulch roundabout to the M11 junction.

“Journey times are wildly erratic. Around 9am on the worst days, five per cent of inbound buses experience delays of 42 minutes or more.”

The proposal adds: “We have therefore focused on measures that may be implemented relatively quickly to reduce delays to inbound buses from the Madingley Mulch roundabout to the Park & Ride junction. The package we recommend, which includes 1,135m of bus lanes and other technical interventions, would reduce a 42-minute delay to under 10 minutes.”

Cambourne to Cambridge (45026702)
Cambourne to Cambridge (45026702)

The proposal has also been submitted to the GCP and the Local Liaison Forum, which has representatives from the parish councils. A copy has also been sent to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer.

There are two options put forward in the proposals, and the first could be implemented quickly. These include lengthening the right-turn M11 filter lane and optimising traffic signals at the M11 exit junction. The second is made up of a package of measures to “provide maximum benefit at modest cost and low environmental and heritage impact”.

They include building an eastbound bus lane and an additional general traffic lane between Madingley Mulch roundabout and Crome Lea Business Park junction, terminating at new, responsive traffic signals, building an eastbound bus lane from the layby east of Mill Farm to Cambridge Road junction and adding responsive traffic signals to the Cambridge Road junction. They also include traffic signals at the M11 entry junction and reassigning the hatched carriageway on A428 to create a 640m bus lane.

These measures crucially require the extension of the GCP’s Comberton greenway to Highfields, Caldecote, and, with developer agreement, through Bourn Airfield to Cambourne.

Mr Littlewood said: “There’s two options here. You can have an A and B and we’re happy to promote both of those options.”

In December, the GCP commissioned an independent review of the proposals for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway. The decision to independently reassess the work to date follows a dispute between the GCP and the mayor and leader of the county’s transport authority, James Palmer, over which route the busway should take.

A GCP spokesperson said: “The GCP executive board has commissioned an independent audit of the Cambourne to Cambridge scheme. Phil Swann is overseeing the audit and has appointed Amey Consulting as the transport experts to review the assumptions and constraints of the project and the preferred route.

“Representative groups – including Cambridge PPF – have been invited to submit written comments by March 29 as part of the review.”

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