Mayor James Palmer weighs in over off-road Cambourne to Cambridge busway
An open letter signed by councillors has called for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway off-road option to be scrapped.
It demands that the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) jettisons its “environmentally and socially damaging off-road scheme through Cambridge’s precious Green Belt”.
The GCP is due to present a recommended route to its executive board for decision on February 19, which is expected to run through the West Fields near Coton.
The letter, dated January 13, 2020, says commuters “deserve a fast, frequent, reliable public transport service” that is “value for money” for the taxpayer.
“This is best achieved with a simple, efficient bus scheme using existing road,” it reads.
The letter adds that bus lanes on the existing road can be implemented straight away, while an off-road busway will take many years to build and take commuters to the wrong place “at a cost of around £200million”.
It calls on the GCP to “give commuters what they really need, at a fraction of the cost, a fraction of the time, and a fraction of the environmental and social damage”.
The letter was signed by South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne during the election campaign, as well as South Cambridgeshire District Council councillors Philip Allen, Tony Mason and Ian Sollom and Cambridge city councillors Rod Cantrill, Markus Gehring, Anthony Martinelli, Josh Matthews, Cheney Payne, George Pippas and Dan Summerbell.
It has also been signed by Cambridgeshire County Council councillor Ian Manning.
The letter says: “It’s extremely poor value for money and highly damaging to the environment and the setting of Cambridge.”
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer said: “I understand the frustrations expressed in this letter; the problems of congestion and a lack of public transport in this area have been evident for years, but the GCP demonstrated a reluctance to take genuine action to resolve it until I commissioned them to construct the first CAM routes. It is clear that they are not effectively consulting with local residents.
“The CAM is a transformative public transport solution that will also unlock growth, homes and jobs across the county, and I am glad that the signatories of this letter can appreciate that the route to Cambourne is a key part of the project and must be compatible.”
He offered to meet the signatories to devise a route that had support.
A GCP spokesperson said: “We agree that commuters deserve a fast, frequent, reliable public transport service. Cambourne to Cambridge (C2C) will deliver high-quality, sustainable and reliable transport that will help tackle the growing demand and congestion in this area and connect thousands of people with key destinations.
“No decisions have been taken. A recommended route and a new Park & Ride location will be presented to the GCP executive board. We have carefully assessed both on and off-road route options over several years and considered value for money, economic, social and environmental factors to identify the best possible solution.
“There are benefits and drawbacks to both on and off-road routes. Proposals to use the increasingly congested A1303 present significant environmental and heritage constraints, disruption to the travelling public and impact to properties caused by the widening of public highway in the confined space – including the American Cemetery and other important sites.
“An off-road route benefits from being unaffected by congestion, meaning people will be able to expect a highly reliable service. An off-road route is also the only proposal that complies with the Combined Authority’s plans for the CAM.”