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Let's get the Chinese driverless metro working on the guided busway in 2018'

By Ben Comber

An example of an autonomous rapaid transit vehicle from China - Cambridge Mass Transit options
An example of an autonomous rapaid transit vehicle from China - Cambridge Mass Transit options

GCP chair gives his five-point plan to get us all moving.

Moves to get a driverless public transport system up and running around Cambridge should be made next year, says the chairman of the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), Cllr Francis Burkitt.

It follows the release of a report that assessed different modes of public transport for Greater Cambridge.

He said the GCP supports mayor James Palmer’s vision for a CAM driverless metro system, but says progress could be made even sooner if a Chinese driverless bus is purchased and tested on the St Ives guided busway.

“We totally agree with the mayor and his vision for high-quality public transport,” he said. “I think that we should get on with it. It should be something we do in 2018.”

Cllr Burkitt, a Conservative South Cambridgeshire district councillor, told the Cambridge Independent of his five-point plan to get the Cambridge Metro up and running:

■ We have got to get hold of them. We should ask the organisation in China to send us a vehicle, but we want to get some British engineers working on it to make it suitable for Cambridge. Marshall is a great engineering company and maybe we could work in partnership with them. We should take the best of Chinese engineering and develop it.

■ We have already got an existing busway in St Ives which is incredibly well used. We should convert it it to the Chinese system. That would be a good prototype. We should quickly see whether this would work locally.

■ We’ve got to work out where we think the tunnels in Cambridge might start and finish. We talk about tunnels but no-one has stated where they might be from and to. The middle one might or might not be Parker’s Piece. The west one might go to the West Cambridge site, and the railway station would be logical, but where do we put the others?

■ Then we have got to work out whether the metro will work in the county as well. It should go to St Neots to the west and and out to Haverhill to the east. We should use the old railway line, not for National Rail but for the metro. North it should go to Waterbeach and possibly to Soham.

■ We must work out how to pay for it all. Half the cost of a bus is the driver. That’s why we don’t have buses running early in the morning or late at night. What you hope is that because there are no drivers it will be cheap to run and you would hope that the tickets would pay for it. Someone’s got to do the maths.


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