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GCP’s Cambridge Independent column – January 2019

Published: Monday, January 21, 2019

The Christmas decorations have only been down a matter of days but we’re already up and out delivering transformative transport projects for Greater Cambridge, writes Rachel Stopard.

At our annual conference in December, the Greater Cambridge Partnership unveiled our vision for a world class public transport network and our plans to make vital improvements to infrastructure to accelerate the delivery of thousands of new homes and jobs.

Just two weeks into the New Year, shovels are in the ground as we work towards making that vision a reality.

Construction on phase one of the Cambridge South East Transport Scheme to improve road safety and walking, cycling and public transport journeys along the A1307 began this week [14/1].

We all recognise how busy the A1307 is and that it has a number of accident blackspots, and so this £14m package in phase one will seek to make immediate improvements to road safety, along with upgrades to walking and cycling paths and greater priority for buses.

In the future, as part of phase two, we want to deliver a dedicated rapid public transport route from a new Park and Ride site close to the A11 to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC). This would give people a real choice over using a private car to get to CBC and the city.

Work is also underway at Ditton Meadows on the Abbey Chesterton Bridge, funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, and the first phase of the community-led Chisholm Trail, which will provide a first-class walking and cycling route that will link Cambridge North and Cambridge Station.

The trail will provide people with a safer, attractive and more sustainable way to discover our city’s beautiful green spaces and it will also make it easier for people to access places of employment, education, our historic city centre and key transport hubs.

 Looking further ahead, work on a project developed with the community to encourage more people to walk, cycle, or take public transport along Histon Road – cutting congestion and improving air quality – is scheduled to begin later this year.

 And we will soon be launching a public consultation on phase two of the Cambourne to Cambridge scheme, which will seek views on the options for a new rapid public transport route to carry thousands of people into the city. A final decision is expected later in the year.

A photograph of a trial of an autonomous vehicle pod on the Cambridge Guided Busway. The pod is a futuristic black vehicle, as wide as a small car, but taller. It runs on 4 wheels. In the image, the pod is on the guided busway which usually carries busses. To the left of the image, a cyclist is using the shared use path, which allows pedestrians and cyclists to pass alongside the busway. The busway is bordered on both sides by trees and undergrowth.

We’re also innovating - Cambridge is on track to be one of the first cities in the UK to develop an autonomous shuttle service as part of our public transport network.

 Using Government funding from Innovate UK, Smart Cambridge and Aurrigo will begin testing of the 12-seater self-driving shuttles on the Guided Busway will begin this summer, with passenger trials due next year.

If these trials are successful, this will initially be an out-of-hours service between Trumpington, CBC and Cambridge station when ordinary buses aren’t running, providing a vital service for shift workers, weekend shoppers and people on their way home from an evening out in the city.

We have taken our time to get the vision and plans in place but delivery is now underway.

We will begin to see tangible improvements in how we move around the city and the wider area, assisting not only the attractiveness of Greater Cambridge as a place to do business and spend leisure time, but also improving productivity and everyone’s quality of life.