Cambridge Guided Busway & Cycleway Benefit Cost Analysis

Cambridge requires a study to compare the costs and benefits of  cycleway networks with those of guided busway networks. Generally:

    • Transport planners favour busways and do not to treat cycling is a serious mass transit mode.
    • Landscape architects believe that when integrated with rail for longer trips, investment in cycleway networks is cheaper, healthier, more reliable and more sustainable than investment in busway networks.

James Palmer (Mayor of Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority), was  right to call for an evidence-based approach to transport planning and right to halt work on the Guided Busway. The Authority has a wonderful opportunity to obtain the necessary evidence.  The Busway + Cycleway 2.4 mile section between Cambridge Station and Trumpington Park & Ride could have been designed and built as a controlled experiment. The routes are the same length; they were built at the same time; the environmental conditions are identical; all the necessary data is available to  the Combined Authority. This section does not include the expensive bridge to Addenbrookes. The systematic assessment should include:

  • Construction costs
  • Maintenance costs
  • Usage
  • Journey times
  • Externalities (affects on health, obesity, noise, air pollution, climate change etc)

The analysis is crucial to Cambridge’s transport strategy.  But instead of a research study,  Steer Davies Gleave were asked to produce a report (Greater Cambridge Mass Transit Options Assessment, January 2018, proposes an underground busway, described as a metro). The report did not include cycling as a transit option. This was a mistake and it should be rectified. Cycling needs to be integrated with other transport modes for long journeys. But the other modes cannot function efficiently without the bicycle and should be planned so that cycling is the fastest mode for trips of less than 5-10 miles.

‘Cycling is mass transit and must be treated as such’ (Running out of road Investing in cycling in Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford A report produced for the National Infrastructure Commission, 2018)

SEE ALSO: Cambridge greenway cycleway planning, review by Tom Turner.

‘The track of the Cambridge Guided Busway appears to be ugly, expensive, decrepit and hazardous. So, obviously, its costs and benefits should be fully researched before a penny is spent on a new guided busway’ (Tom Turner, quote from the above video)


Tom Turner

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