Petition calls for more Cambs busways to be scrapped

Guided busway bus

A petition has been launched calling on the city’s transport strategy to fundamentally shift and scrap plans for more busways and park and rides. - Credit: Archant

Campaign group Smarter Cambridge Transport has launched a petition calling on the city’s transport strategy to fundamentally shift and scrap plans for more busways and park and rides.

The petition is intended to be put to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s board when it meets on July 1, where council leaders are expected to take key decisions on progressing with plans for three new busways.

Councillors will be asked for their consent for the GCP to apply for a Transport and Works Act order for permission to construct the South East Cambridge busway proposed to connect the Biomedical Campus with a 1,250-space park and ride close to the A11 Granta Park junction – reduced from 2,000 spaces from when the plans were last considered.

Although the south east project is the most advanced in the planning, the board will also be asked to approve a preferred route for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway to advance to an environmental impact assessment, and to develop an outline business case for a busway connecting the Waterbeach New Town with the Cambridge North Station.

The GCP website says petitions are considered by the joint assembly prior to being considered by the board, suggesting it is not guaranteed to be formally considered on July 1.

Smarter Cambridge Transport, a volunteer-run think tank and campaign group formed in 2015, is calling for the GCP to prioritise funding for walking, cycling, improved bus services and bus prioritisation, but on existing roads.

The petition says this aspiration should be funded by “withdrawing funding from the current busway-and-car-park schemes”.

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“The GCP is at an advanced stage of planning to build three busways and five car parks at a cost of £419m. That’s £1,370 per resident of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire”, the group claims.

Those figures do not include the cost of the proposed busway for the east of the city, where the GCP says further progress is linked to the Marshalls airport site being allocated for housing.

Smarter Cambridge Transport also claims the Cambourne to Cambridge busway and park and ride would cost £180,000 per new user, based on a methodology it said uses estimated user figures from GCP reports.

The petition also calls for all projects to be re-appraised against current government climate change targets, for the GCP to support the mayor to “give everyone in greater Cambridge access to convenient and affordable bus services” and develop comprehensive sustainable transport strategy, and to “put health at the heart” of all projects.

The group says: “Meeting government housing targets is important, but not more important than decarbonising road transport, restoring ecology, reducing toxic air pollution, reducing illness from inactivity and social isolation, and eliminating deaths on the roads.

"With a new mayor and new administration at the county council, now more than ever, GCP needs to change its priorities.”

A spokesperson for the GCP said: “The continued economic success of greater Cambridge means thousands of new jobs and homes are planned for the area which will put further pressure on our transport network.

“We are bringing forward plans for a fully integrated transport network, with high-quality active travel and public transport routes with reliable and frequent services between growing communities and places of work and leisure.

“These will link into the GCP’s city access proposals, our £130m investment to upgrade the cycling network and other initiatives such as new state-of-the-art traffic signals, as well as projects being developed by our partners at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail.

“This joined-up future transport network will mean thousands of people will be able to travel quickly, sustainably and more reliably – helping to cut congestion, improve air quality, tackle climate change and transform how people get around Greater Cambridge.”

The petition was launched on Monday (June 14) and is available here...

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