“The Guided Busway opens soon”
It almost sounds like a joke. So many times it has been announced that the guided busway would open on date X, only to be postponed. Original launch date was two and a half years ago now. But this time it seems like it will actually happen. In fact, the current launch date (7th August) is so close that there simply isn’t enough time to postpone it again. And this is great news for the villagers north of Cambridge who didn’t have any proper connection with town before and whose only option would be to drive which involves getting stuck in – and contributing to – the rush hour traffic jams that characterise the city’s infrastructure. It’s so bad that even the buses take much longer to get into town during these times.
So now when we get the new busway, that allows easy, direct access to the Science Park and almost direct access to town for a whole lot of villages north of Cambridge, we will be left with much better public transportation in Cambridge than we had when the project was started several years ago, right?
I’m afraid that I believe the answer is “no”.
Long before the guided busway was ready, Stagecoach started reducing the number of buses on the routes in the area. This was first done by reducing the departures of Citi 4, which later had its evening and Sunday routes replaced by a new “B” route and now the “B” route is all there is. And this doesn’t go anywhere on the way into town, so it is no longer possible to take a bus from Orchard Park to the Science Park or Cambridge Regional College, or anywhere along Milton Road, which was quite useful before. Another cut back happened last year, when the Citi 2 stopped going to Milton, which means there is now only one bus (the “9”) for the many elderly in Milton to get into town unless they drive (it’s the same for younger people, but I think they should be able to cycle from Milton without any problems). And as “9” doesn’t stop at Tesco in Milton they can’t use it to get their shopping home if they live in the other end of Milton (which I believe was a common thing to do). Also, there is no “9” on Sundays.
Unfortunately, there’s not as much money in the elderly seen from the Stagecoach business, because of their bus passes. So, ironically, they get a worse service even though they’re the ones who need the service the most. This is probably an inherent problem of a privatised transport sector, making it a business like any other, instead of the service it’s supposed to be.
To summarise, we’re left with fewer buses from Orchard Park, and the guided busway won’t stop inside Orchard park as the current “B” does or the old Citi 4 did as well, but instead at one or two peripheral stops. There is no connection between Orchard Park and the Science Park, even though one of the only advantages of the Orchard Park location is its short distance to a lot of work places. Also we get fewer buses to Milton and along Milton Road.
So, what can we do? Well, we can complain. I’m planning on writing a letter to the city council to explain some of the same things I’ve written here. I might wait to see if I get any comments here, so I can get more angles of the situation. We should also keep this in mind come next election, when we can try to remember that changes like these can actually make a bigger difference in our lives than increased fuel prices or whatever people normally care about. And then we remember that the power to change these things are in the hands of the politicians, it’s us who put them there, and it’s us who decide how long they stay and who they are eventually replaced by. If there’s something that’s important to us, we have to make sure it’s also important to the people we vote for.
I hope a lot of people would like to comment on this, and let me know what they think about The Guided Busway, public transportation in general and anything else that might be relevant.