Cambridge: Busway Most Successful In World

28 September 2012, 06:00 | Updated: 28 September 2012, 12:56

It's claimed the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway is the most successful scheme of its type in the world.

That's the conclusion of the man behind new research into the Cambridgeshire Busway, after the County Council commissioned a survey of 800 passengers. 

Councillor Ian Bates, who's responsible for Planning at the Authority says they've also found passenger numbers, at more than 2-million, are 40 percent above the forecast for the first year: "Dare I say we've been proved right - it was a good investment, it is a good investment and it will be a long-term investment for the people of Cambridgeshire, so I think the survey absolutely proves building the busway was the right decision." 

The County Council and Akins research shows that the Cambridgeshire Busway continues to succeed, with passenger numbers significantly ahead of expectation and many people choosing to leave their car at home and take the bus instead. 

A survey commissioned by Akins and the Authority found that passenger numbers for the first year were running around 40% ahead of forecast (2.5million in its' first year - August 2011 to August 2012). 

Up to 80% of passengers said they have access to a car, but choose to ride the Busway instead. 

The Busway is attracting passengers who are making the journey for a variety of reasons including commuters, students and people heading into Cambridge for medical reasons and nearly half the passengers are catching the bus on a daily basis with more than 70% of users staying loyal to the service since its launch. 

The quality of the buses, the smooth ride and access to free wifi are also proving very popular with passengers many of whom said that using the Busway had also cut their journey time. 

Future Improvements

Cllr Bates also told Heart further improvements are planned to help cyclists and pedestrians who use the pathways next to busway. 

For cyclists: Construction of the guided busway has also provided Cambridgeshire's longest and most used cycleway - but there's been issues with visibility and safety at nighttime. The County Council say they're looking at installing solar-powered "cats-eyes" along the route. 

It's thought it would cost more than an extra £20,000 for part of the route between the train station at Cambridge and the Park & Ride stop at Trumpington. 

For walkers: There's also discussions about more street-lights for pedestrians, but that would cost around FIVE TIMES the amount of the solar-powered cats-eyes and would need to be approved by the Council. 

Extensions To The Route - a timetable of extensions. A number of alternative routes or extensions to the existing route have emerged ever since the Busway idea became a reality. Some, like an extension all the way to Peterborough seem a long-term hope, but others have surfaced as people realised just how sucessful the Busway was becoming. 

Science Park - all along, the busway had planned to be extended to the new station at the Science Park. Building of the new train station is expected to begin in 2014. 

Brampton - earlier this year (Feb 2012), the Campaign for Better Transport tabled plans to request an additional Park & Ride facility at the Brampton Racecourse near Huntingdon. 

Football - then in the spring (May 2012), proposals were discussed to extended the busway - either on the road or as a seperate lane down the Newmarket Road between the Abbey Stadium and East Road.