COUNCIL and bus operator bosses are ready to welcome the first customers on the longest Guided Busway in the World this Sunday (7 August).
The revolutionary new link will offer a reliable, fast and frequent service between Huntingdon, St Ives and Cambridge giving residents a high quality alternative to the long queues and uncertain journey times on the notoriously congested A14.
Stagecoach and Whippet Coaches, who will run the services on The Busway, have completed driver training and their fleet of luxury buses that have been fitted with small rubber guide wheels are ready to roll on Sunday morning.
Busway services will run seven days a week, and from Monday to Saturday 7am to 7pm there will be buses running between St Ives and Cambridge at least every 10 minutes. Services to Huntingdon will be every 20 minutes with an hourly evening service running until midnight.
Cyclists, walkers and horse-riders will also be able to begin using the route between Swavesey and Cambridge from Sunday as the high quality, wide, safe and car-free path next to the guideway opens. The Swavesey to St Ives section will begin to be raised and surfaced in August. During the work this section will be fenced off and not open to the public.
Council bosses are reminding users to be aware that buses are now running on a frequent basis and traffic signals will give buses priority at road junctions.
It is anticipated around 3.5 million trips will be taken on The Busway each year. The dedicated track for guided buses will mean passengers will be able to travel by public transport between St Ives Park & Ride and the Science Park in Cambridge in just 20 minutes.
Cambridge Gateway – a project to improve bus, cycle and pedestrian access into Cambridge railway station – was completed earlier this year, and the new link to Hills Road will also open on 7 August to tie in with the start of Busway services.
The Busway will be the longest track of its kind in the world and includes two new Park & Ride sites at St Ives and Longstanton with spaces for hundreds of cars, and covered cycle parking. The shorter southern section connects Cambridge Railway Station, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Trumpington Park & Ride with a completely traffic free link.
Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member Growth and Planning, said: “The Busway will raise the bar for other public transport schemes in the future and is going to be an asset for Cambridgeshire communities to enjoy. Being able to get on a bus in Huntingdon or St Ives and bypass the congestion on the notorious A14 will be fantastic. This route is all about giving people a reliable and green alternative to using the car.”
Andy Campbell, Managing Director for Stagecoach in Cambridge, said: “Stagecoach are ready for the route opening this Sunday and our drivers are looking forward to the start of services. The Busway is a visionary project and we believe that our luxury buses with leather seats, free WiFi internet access and air chill will encourage more people out of their cars and on to the route. We have put our drivers through thorough training ahead of Sunday and I am certain our customers will be very impressed with how quick and smooth journeys are on the route.”
Peter Lee, Director of Whippet Coaches, said: “Queues on the A14 are a big problem for buses as well as people in their cars and from Sunday people will have a reliable alternative to battling those queues. We have invested heavily in new buses for the route and we believe it will be a great success.”
The first passenger services will be on the guideway from just after 9am on Sunday and further information on routes and timetables can be found by logging on to www.thebusway.info.