(England Twitter)-Cambridgeshire Guided Busway (CGB), branded the busway, is a public transport scheme to connect the population centres of Cambridge, Huntingdon and St Ives in the English county of Cambridgeshire. Construction and planning for the Cambridge-Huntingdon Rapid Transit Scheme (CHRT) took place during the 2000s for 25 kilometres of dedicated guided busway, within a wider 40-kilometre network. The guideway is notable for its length and will become the longest operational guided busway in the world, overtaking the O-Bahn Busway in Adelaide, South Australia.
The northern section of busway runs parallel to the A14 road, using the course of the Cambridge and Huntingdon railway that closed to passengers in 1970, between the former Oakington, Long Stanton and Histon railway stations. A southern section is designed to connect Cambridge railway station, Addenbrooke's Hospital and a park and ride site at Trumpington.
Based on contracts signed with the promoters, Cambridgeshire County Council, bus services would be operated by Stagecoach in Huntingdonshire and Whippet Coaches who would have exclusive use of the route for a period of five years in exchange for providing a minimum service frequency between 07:00 and 19:00 each day.
Construction began in March 2007 with an intended completion date of April 2009. In September 2010 delays with the southern section moved the expected opening date into early 2011.The scheme was estimated to cost over £150 million, and was subsequently described by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert as a "white elephant. An independent review was announced on 21 September 2010 and by December 2010 the figure had increased to £181 million.
Two operators, Stagecoach and Whippet Coaches, had committed to buying new buses and running commercial services on the scheme. The council had previously held talks with Cavalier (Huntingdon and District) and another operator. As with all other UK busway schemes in the privatised bus industry, Cambridgeshire County Council owns the infrastructure, and will allow private bus operators to use it on their registered services, subject to quality contracts specifying vehicle and service standards. During peak hours of 07:00–19:00 operators will be charged for using the busway.
Seven buses per hour will initially run on the core northern section between St Ives and Cambridge Science Park during the day, reduced to hourly in the evenings and on Sundays. Figures originally published during 2004 by Cambridgeshire County Council proposed that up to twenty bus services per hour could run on a busway into Cambridge during peak periods by 2016.
Routes A and B
Stagecoach will run services between St Ives and Cambridge, with extensions to Huntingdon railway station. The journey time for Routes A and B from St Ives bus station to the Cambridge Science Park will be 23 minutes plus an additional 15 minutes into Cambridge city centre—38 minutes in total. Stagecoach's previous three-times per hour Service 55 between Cambridge and St Ives had been timetabled as taking 30–37 minutes. The promoters of the scheme predicted that journey times via the busway route might be more consistent and reliable, due to buses avoiding the busy A14 road.
To operate their services, Stagecoach ordered ten Eclipse/B7RLE single decker buses, to be manufactured by Wrightbus and Volvo, and ten Alexander Dennis Enviro400/Scania N230UD double deckers for the guided busway network. All of the new specially-branded vehicles will be equipped with leather seats, air chill or air conditioning, real time information, and free Wi-Fi. The new fleet of buses were deployed on Stagecoach's other services prior to the opening of guided sections of the busway, having cost the operator a total of £3 million plus £1 million in staffing and training costs.
Whippet will operate Route C from Somersham to Cambridge centre using a mixture of rural roads, Cambridge city centre roads and the northern guideway between the St Ives park and ride site and the outskirts of Cambridge. Journey time from Somersham to Cambridge city centre is scheduled to take 57 minutes, with no Sunday service. Whippet had spent a total of £420,000 on three buses (£140,000 each).
When boarding a bus on the guideway section, passengers will be required to purchase their tickets before boarding from one of seventeen ticket issuing machines compatible with ITSO smartcards.Cambridgeshire Country Council stated that multi-operator ticketing would be supported, allowing passengers to board the first bus that arrived—stating that such a ticket would be a first, but would take a while to perfect. At present tickets from one operator will not be valid on another operator's bus. Other cities, such as Nottingham, had had tickets valid on all operators' buses since 2004.
The project was budgeted to cost £116.2 million, with central government providing £92.5 million of the money. Cost-benefit analysis of the scheme had variously assessed the expected ratio as 4.84, 2.28 (1998 prices) and 1.968, (a higher ratio is better), with the cost rising from an initial estimate of £54 million. In December 2008, the County Council assessed the financial risks of the project as "high"; None of the £12.7 million funding—out of £23.7 million—due to come from property developers had been received by the promoters. In November 2009 the backers of the "cb1" redevelopment scheme around the Cambridge railway station frontage, Ashwell Property Group, had been due to make their £927,000 contribution towards the busway scheme, but were given permission to defer; and went bust in December 2009. The taxpayer was expected to have to make up any funding shortfall. Cambridgeshire County Council announced it was budgeting £1 million per year to cover potential on going costs associated with the busway, through the reorganisation of other transport related budgets.
The scheme will link the city of Cambridge, in East Anglia, with St Ives, Huntingdon and Northstowe (a proposed new town) to the north-west, and with the M11 motorway to the south. The route includes two sections of guided operation, a bus-only road and other places with on-street operation in conventional bus lanes. New park and ride sites are planned to be built at Longstanton and at St Ives, with a cycle track/bridleway provided alongside some sections of the route. The final scheme will include bus priority and real-time passenger information system displays at guideway bus stops.
It is estimated that 11,500 journeys a day will be made on the guideway. The scheme is predicted to cause a direct reduction in traffic on the busy parallel A14 road of 5.6% (rising to 11.1% with the new Park & Ride sites), although as other traffic re-routes to the freed-up road space from other parts of the local road network, the actual net reduction on the A14 is predicted to be 2.3%. The overall scheme is "not intended to solve the congestion problems on the A14" by itself, but will rather have an overall effect across the local road network, and be complementary to the planned road improvements on the A14.
Should development of the proposed Chesterton railway station in north Cambridge close to the A14 and science park go ahead, Cambridge County Council has proposed diverting the guideway via the new station. Any work would be part of a major £500 million funding bid from the Government's Transport Innovation Fund coupled to the introduction of Congestion Charging schemes. Passenger interchange at Chesterton could then provide access to direct London and Ely mainline railway services.
Campaign group CAST.IRON has written to the government as a formal response to Department for Transport's consultation in the Greater Anglia rail franchise and proposed a new north Cambridge station adjacent to Milton Road and close to the end of the section of guided busway, instead of the proposed Chesterton station.
By June 2010, BAM Nuttall was predicting that it hoped to have the originally planned southern sections to Trumpington and Addenbrooke's Hospital opened by December 2010. Cambridgeshire County Council has proposed extending the busway beyond each of the Addenbrooke's Hospital and Trumpington Park and Ride termini. Funding would be part of the same Transport Innovation Fund proposals.
In connection with the Chesterton diversion, the CamLink consortium have proposed a new busway route from the centre of Cambridge ,continuing past a future Chesterton station to Waterbeach. CamLink is a proposal developed by RLW Estates which is a consortium of The Royal London Group, Turnstone Estates and St John's College.
CamToo, a transport scheme developed by a separate set of local interest groups, has also offered proposals for further expansion of the guided busway network including:
Extension beyond the Milton Road junction, crossing Milton Road to Barnwell Bridge, continuing along the railway alignment already used.
New access routes to and from the A14 road to enable buses coming from Bar Hill and Cambourne to gain access to the northern guided section of the busway and its bridge under the A14 road.
A new bridge under the A14 dual carriageway to enable buses serving Milton, including a new Park and Ride site, to avoid the busy Milton Road / A14 roundabout.
Conversion of bus lanes on Newmarket Road to "tramway" style (bus lanes moved into the centre of the road with right-turns across the bus lanes prevented for normal traffic).
Extension beyond the Addenbrooke's Hospital terminus, connecting to the A1303 Babraham Road