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Public backs ‘orbital’ bus link for Cambridge

Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Public consultation has backed plans for new ‘orbital’ bus journeys around Cambridge - providing fast and reliable trips north to south which avoid the city centre.

The scheme would offer improved public transport and cycling journeys on or near the M11 between Junctions 11 and 13, linking key housing and employment hubs including Trumpington Meadows, Cambridge Biomedical Campus and North and West Cambridge.

However, the Greater Cambridge City Deal board (GCCD) is being advised to defer the decision until Highway England’s plans for the M11 – and the potential to work with them on a joint solution - are known.

The scheme forms part of a wider programme to develop a sustainable transport network that can accommodate an anticipated 30% growth in trips in the Cambridge area over the next 15 years.

Public consultation on initial ideas for a ‘western orbital’ scheme – including expansion of Park and Ride services at Trumpington – was carried out earlier this year.

A report published today showed that:

·       1008 people responded to the consultation with 64% supporting the need for public transport improvements along the section of the M11 between Junction 11 at Madingley and Junction 13 at Trumpington. 

·       Most respondents agreed that the provision of fast, reliable and frequent journeys was most likely to persuade them to make use of buses. 

·       Over 67% of respondents felt it was important or very important that cycling and pedestrian facilities are improved within this scheme

·       Overall, greatest support was given for Option A (bus priority on the M11) (61.8% supporting or strongly supporting), followed by Option B (bus route east of M11) (53.4% supporting or strongly supporting).

·       All three initial ideas for a new Park and Ride site were supported by the majority of respondents, with the greatest support expressed for a new site at the Junction 11 exit of the M11 (70.9% of respondents supported or strongly supported this option).

Officers have advised the GCCD Executive Board to hold on further decisions until the outcome of Highway’s England five year strategy for the M11 which they will consult on in 2017. The current plan will see signing technology upgraded but no increase in capacity. 

In a separate paper exploring the potential for a bus-only south bound slip road at Junction 11, to ease growing congestion, officers have recommended this remains part of the Western Orbital and is not taken forward early:

“Although identifying current constraints and further pressures on J11 due to development and its impact on traffic, the assessment shows that there is not a sufficient case for a stand-alone bus only south bound off slip road at Junction 11 of the M11 irrespective of the alignment.

“For the lower cost interventions any journey time benefits would be negligible in terms of bus priority and are not likely to encourage modal shift from cars to buses in line with City Deal objectives and business aspirations,” said the report.

The reports will be considered at the next meetings of the City Deal’s Joint Assembly and Executive Board.

The meetings will also discuss early work to prioritise Tranche 2 schemes for the City Deal’s transport programme, subject to securing the next £200 million of Government funding in 2020.

The Joint Assembly and Executive Board meetings are open to the public:

·       Joint Assembly: 2pm on 1 December at the Council Chamber, the Guildhall, Cambridge

·       Executive Board: 4pm on 8 December at the Council Chamber, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambourne