I have written here about the Cambridge guided busway and yesterday I finally got to travel on it. From the St Ives Park and Ride we boarded a bus and travelled quickly and comfortably towards Cambridge, the buses travelling in a concrete trough along the old railway line. This “innovative transport solution” can’t quite shake off the past as traces of the railway past remain, such as station buildings at Oakington and Histon, the latter boarded up, whilst there are several level crossings to negotiate. Just past the Science Park however the bus has to leave its trough for the busy streets of central Cambridge and take quite a time to reach the stop by Christ’s Pieces where we got off to begin our sightseeing.
The busway is certainly popular and the journey back was rather less comfortable as the double decker was so full. But would a regular rail service have been any less popular? Less frequent certainly but with the advantage of not having to leave the tracks for the streets and being available for freight, diverted trains etc as well. The busway has been criticized from another quarter too, that of those who argue that the railway could have been converted into a road and that a busway is an unsatisfactory fudge,
The buses continue on to the Park and Ride at Trumpington near the M11. As I wrote before reaching Trumpington has meant using part of the trackbed of the former railway to Bedford which is the missing link in the rapidly developing East West rail project.
An interesting and not unpleasant experience then but worth the money spent (not counting the additional money still to be spent rejoining Cambridge and Bedford by a roundabout route)? On that one the jury’s not out.