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Smarter Cambridge Transport’s interactive vision for a lollipop bus network

Opinion | By Edward Leigh, Smarter Cambridge Transport

I observed here at the end of July that the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s (GCP) City Access Strategy needed to include a solution for accommodating all the planned extra buses in Cambridge city centre. Their most recent report still contains no solution.

With no tunnels under Cambridge but an urgent need for action in this decade, our only option is to reallocate road space to ensure it is safe and enjoyable to walk and cycle in the city, and quick and convenient to catch buses into and out of the city.

In the absence of any better suggestions, I offer you the lollipop bus network for consideration.

Click on the years to see how the network develops.

One of my starting points is that large buses shouldn’t be running through Bridge/Magdalene Street, Silver Street and Hobson Street. These should be streets for people.

The ‘lollipop’ plan would have express bus services from travel hubs in market towns and larger villages entering Cambridge along the main radial roads, but instead of continuing into the city centre, they turn right when they reach the inner ring road (Gonville Place, East Road, Maids Causeway, Victoria Avenue, Chesterton Road, Northampton Street, Queen’s Road, The Fen Causeway, Lensfield Road). They make a complete circuit of the ring in an anticlockwise direction, then return along the route they came in on.

By hopping off and onto another bus at a stop anywhere around the inner ring, people can reach all destinations on all other express bus routes.

Complementary services follow different routes using size-appropriate vehicles to fill gaps in the network (eg minibuses through the city centre) and add capacity to popular routes.

General motor traffic travels clockwise around the inner ring road, except on The Fen Causeway, which remains two-way for all traffic. This is not as disruptive as you might at first imagine. For most trips, a route avoiding the inner ring is not that long a detour.

I presented this to the GCP citizens’ assembly in 2019, which ranked it fourth as a “supporting measure” after franchising bus services, planting trees and promoting e-bikes. I programmed all the changes into the county council’s traffic model and demonstrated it’s feasible. So, what do you think?

  • Read Smarter Cambridge Transport’s column in the Cambridge Independent every Wednesday

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