AVRT- an idiotic proposal for Cambridge

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by jopsuk, 31 Aug 2017.

  1. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    I don't know much about how Cambridge's P&Rs are set up. Logically some P&R bus services could do a tour of peripheral suburbs and nearby villages before calling at a major car park location and going limited stop into town. Most I've experienced don't do this, instead operating as a simple shuttle between car park and urban centre instead. If a P&R is subsidised, extending (some of) its bus operations into the surrounding suburbs could be considered unfair competition against any established commercial bus operations, and we've also got the issue that unitary authorities often have travel to work and play residential districts extending well beyond their limited political boundaries, but can't spend subsidy for any improvements physically in an adjacent local authority, and if the political hue over the border is historically very different, best of luck to them formulating any holistic joint approach to such transport planning. Of course the P&R buses DO compete with other local services anyway as some people soon find it more convenient to drive to the frequent and fast P&R bus rather than wait for the sparse and slow normal one. P&R alone can thus tend to reinforce auto-dependency in these cases, especially if the local bus services are then subject to service cuts due to falling patronage. Modern light rail schemes so far seem to have been able to successfully address both these roles on the same line without outcry and there's no reason a largely segregated rubber-tyred transit mode couldn't do the same, if planned in the same way and delivered reliably. It seems sensible to stick with existing technology already in use locally, so perhaps what's needed in Cambridge is a fast reliable route between the existing and future busway segments and extensions running quickly and directly through the city centre and making a limited number of strategic calls. Problem with that is the busways are used predominantly by longer distance routes using diesel buses. It would seem odd if after rushing headlong through the countryside to the peripheries, these guided vehicles would have to turn off onto the regular roads while this new city centre core tunnels played host solely to inner-city, all-electric, rubber-tyred tram analogues on urban routes alone. These could be hybrid I suppose, with electric operation mandated on the city core routes, whether they turn out to be in (at least in some parts) tunneled or on the surface. For low speed street / segregated operations in the centre, the mechanical guidance systems employed would not be suitble due to the raised curb required. Buses on these routes could also be fitted with an alternative guidance system based on self driving technology paving the way towards future more comprehensive automation.
     
  2. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    There was a consultation on peak-time road closures (effectively barring all car traffic across certain cordons in both directions 0730-0930 on weekdays - something like £25 if you do). It really did not go down well.

    £25 to park on the Grand Arcade for a Saturday seems extortionate...but theres a queue stretching down Downing Street for it almost every Saturday! And the Park & Ride buses often get stuck in all the same traffic anyway (but are still popular) (or you have to sit in the traffic to get to the P&R site in the first place). Newmarket Road, Madingley Road and Trumpington are particularly bad for this.

    Problem is alot of the city centre traffic is not caused by the city centre; it's the natural 'desire line' from north/west of Cambridge (St. Neots, Huntingdon etc.) through to the Biomedical Campus, and even with the busway, the bus is a slow alternative (especially the X5 from St. Neots, with the queue up to Caxton Gibbet roundabout every morning). Hence the 'orbital' proposals (via the M11 alignment) that are floating about.
     
  3. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    As in the report, the natural 'demand' corridor for a tram is East-West (station/Biomedical Campus through the Market Square area to the West Cambridge university site) for which there is an impenatrable part of the city across King's Parade/Trumpington Street. You're either demolishing King's College, tunnelling, or running through some very inadequate narrow streets (e.g. Silver Street, Market Hill) to resolve this. And you've got to cross the River Cam in the process too. There is just no gap.
     
  4. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    There appears to be a road that runs near enough straight south east to north west through the centre - could that not be used?
     
  5. eastdyke

    eastdyke Established Member

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    You can park for just an hour though for £2.60 and I think blue badge holders can have the first 3 hours free. The latter is one answer to the popularity question!
    One thing I am not sure of is how full the P&R car parks get? I could find no live info online. If you go to a P&R and find no spaces you might not try again.
    Norwich, on the other hand, (with some similar traffic issues but not historically quite as bad as Cambridge) has online space information. A check just now showed that the 6 sites ranged from 38% to 83% full so I could, if I so wished, travel with some confidence.
    If Cambridge do not show the free spaces (ie my navigation skills failed to find the link), I think that Cambridge are missing a small trick.
     
  6. TheDavibob

    TheDavibob Member

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    Sidney Street is 3m wide, already has insufficient pavement space, and is part of a critical delivery vehicle path for the city centre, as well as being heavily used by students leaving town (on bike). It cannot cope now with what is essentially no car traffic between 9 and 5. The addition of tram tracks would very possibly kill cyclists -- they are dangerous (see Edinburgh - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-41002038) and similar complaints in Dublin. Whilst this wouldn't be an issue where there is space for proper segregation (so a primary bike route runs alongside a tram line), Sidney Street ain't it.
     
  7. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    The Busway is set up like that. Buses do a tour of various estates in Huntingdon and St. Ives, then serve the Busway Park & Rides at St. Ives, Longstanton etc. on the way into town.

    The other 5 park and rides, however, are not (Milton, Newmarket Road, Babraham Road, Trumpington and Madingley Road). These are basically all located on the edge of the Cambridge urban area, so there aren't really convenient local suburbs to serve first before reaching the P&R site; they're basically in fields (pretty much); and the suburbs/villages don't really justify a 10 minute frequency bus service/don't string together in a coherent manner without spliting into several hourly/half-hourly services. Only exception might be Milton, which could pick up Milton 'proper', Landbeach and Waterbeach first. Only issue is I'm sure the County Council's budget (who fund the P&R) probably can't stretch that far, and can't be seen to be 'competing' with Stagecoach's commercial services.
     
  8. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    Even where a high frequency P&R operation splits up onto a number of half hourly branches beyond the outermost parkway stop, the speed and reliability imbued by the core limited stop section can still be attractive to suburban dwellers. the worst case is when the suburb/village service sticks to the conventional roads stopping at nearly every lamp post on a major arterial (with traditional inner estate tours en route) and can take many time longer than the P&R. Better if the 'inner suburban' terminated at the P&R to interchange with the outer suburban there. and provide some local P&R too for the communities along the arterial. I'm sure sthose Huntingdon and St Ives routes aren't all high frequency at their extremities, but they're attractive nonetheless for other reasons.
     
  9. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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  10. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    These cyclists include students, of whom a significant minority pay little attention to road safety, plus a fair sprinkling of the sort of "entitled" people who would sue at the slightest excuse. As you evidently aren't familiar with the place you amy not be aware of the sheer number of cyclists (typical image linked below) especially at the start and end of lecture times.

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.2...4!1ssCzM8eUYJeAU4n828skKSA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
    The Google link in my previous post might suggest that a single track tramway is possible, but it would also need a cycle lane of nearly the same width to prevent the whole road snarling up and to keep the cyclists clear of the rail grooves. So the footway would have to go down to a tiny width (as it was when I knew it in the 1980s, when buses ran through).
     
  11. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Agree - the volume of cycling down this particular axis is very considerable indeed, ranging in proficiency from 'thoroughly competent' to 'genteel with a basket with my kids in the front' to 'haven't the faintest idea about basic rules of the road' to 'get out of my lycra-clad way, I'm trying to set my PB from the station to my college'

    Just to emphasise how narrow the road is, just north of the river bridge, buses must operate single file ("bi-di" in railway speak), and even then the remaining pavement isn't at all generous.
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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  13. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    You really do have to see Sidney Street on a sunny summer weekend afternoon to quite appreciate how thronging it is with people, and how higgley piggledy the street in (just laying flat, level track will be a problem - the street goes over a slight hill, not to mention the general archaic mess that are Cambridge underground utilities to be shifted). The streets in Amsterdam are at least pretty straight on level, with good sightlines..

    And walk down about 7 or 8am to see the number of lorries and vans parked up and down the street delivering to the shops along there, while people are walking and cycling to work.

    Bikes + People + Vans + Trams is just too much for that narrow space.

    Besides, where would you put the line for going the other way?!
     
  14. glbotu

    glbotu Member

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    So, for street running trams to be worth while (and better than buses), they need to spend a non trivial amount of time separated from cars. The space in which to do this anywhere near Cambridge City centre is frankly negligible.

    You'd never get them up Trinity Street or Bridge Street (too many cyclists - for anyone who's never been in Cambridge at 0850 just before lectures, imagine the most bicycles you've ever seen in one place, now keep multiplying until the number becomes unimaginable), you could maybe do what the buses from the south do, come up Hills Road, then up Parkside, then Parker Street and into Drummer Street bus station before going up Hobson Street, but all this can only be one way (Parkside and Hobson St are already one way), but you'd have to get trams up Hills Road and that certainly won't become closed to cars any time soon. Beyond that you've still got to get the trams up either huntingdon road, Madingley Road, Histon Road or Milton Road, each of which come with their own obstacles (all of which have significant traffic on them at certain times of the day).

    If you want a 'metro' for Cambridge, you probably need to tunnel.
     
  15. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

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    The problem with that is that Bus companies then seek to obtain priority over non-motorised users where they consider them to be an operational inconvenience, especially when they also view faster/longer-distance cyclists as 'lost fares'. Also, such measures have a tendency to adversely affect those who do not have a vote for the local authority versus those who do.

    Given the high safety standards (rightly) expected in any workplace, it is not going to be cheap. Then there is the matter of the spoil being disposed of without causing undue environmental harm. Also, the need to not damage any utilities (of which Cambridge has quite a lot according to another poster).

    Sometimes cyclists may do some apparently quite questionable things in order to cope because, on balance, it actually reduces (or would appear to reduce at the time) the risk of them being seriously hurt vis-a-vis the alternative. Then there is the slight matter of pedestrians, where the volume of others may leave a pedestrian impeding a surface tram with nowhere to go. While I'm not overly familiar with Cambridge, I believe that both would be significant issues (compared to similar historic cities that I am familiar with).
     
  16. MarlowDonkey

    MarlowDonkey Member

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    Fifty years ago, before pedestrianisation, the centre of Cambridge had an anti-clockwise one way system. The return route would be down Trinity Street which I see from Google maps is still one way southbound.

    I doubt tramlines and masses of cyclists mix very well.
     
  17. TheDavibob

    TheDavibob Member

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    The one-way system is very much still there. And the problems with Sidney Street are just as much problems with Trinity Street.

    The *only* way my crayons can see a Cambridge tram route working is if it skirts the centre: Parkside -> New Square -> Victoria Avenue and crosses the river there (as many buses do at the moment), but that's too far from the centre to be particularly worthwhile, and it leaves the problem of getting west from there.
     
  18. DelW

    DelW Member

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    Indeed, a report on this proposal in the February issue of New Civil Engineer (house magazine of the Institution of Civil Engineers) quotes current ICE president Lord Mair:
    "An important myth to explode is that Cambridge is inappropriate for tunnelling". He said that at a depth of around 15m the Gault Clay was "ideal for rapid and economic tunnelling" with a maximum settlement at the surface of 10mm for a 4m diameter tunnel.
    Bearing in mind that as Robert Mair he was a geotechnical engineer closely involved in soft ground urban tunnelling for MTR in Hong Kong and the Jubilee Line Extension, including the development of compensation grouting techniques to control settlement at Waterloo and Westminster stations, there are few better qualified to comment on the technical feasibility of the tunnel proposals.
    The transport system to be installed within them is of course a different matter.
     
  19. gingerheid

    gingerheid Member

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    I have to say I actually like the proposal.

    The current guided busway annoys us all because it was built on something that should have been a railway, and because we love railways and want it to have been a railway. But that wasn't the fault of the guided busway; that was the fault of the people that decided where to put it. The construction company involved was also terrible bad news. That also wasn't the fault of the guided busway, it's the sort of thing that can happen to Edinburgh Trams or Sheffield Tram Trains too. It seems likely that it will also turn out that their build quality won't have a long life, which again isn't the fault of the guided busway itself. It also doesn't even go to the city centre, but it has succeeded despite this fault (that it is now proposed to rectify).

    In the key area where the guided busway stands or falls on its own feet it has, most inexplicably and annoyingly to us, been a success. People have been using it in great numbers and on more services than ever imagined, and this was achieved despite Northstowe (an expected source of traffic) not arriving when predicted. I can't see why it shouldn't be an even greater success if we complete the job, and I can't see why the success can't be repeated on other corridors (like the A428).

    My only wish would be that the success is not repeated on the alignments of the Mildenhall or Haverhill railways, as both should of course be re-opened!

    The other thing that I would love to see is the rail v guided bus preference tested. There's an opportunity to do this by starting bus services to Royston. These would put buses against trains at their best; rather than the illogical situation in respect of the northern guideway they'd be using the guideway to bypass congestion in Cambridge and get very close to where people want to be. I suspect there's a reason why Stagecoach (who have been very willing to expand their guided services and try out the limits of the northern route) haven't tried this. I think that the opportunity to compare passenger numbers would be particularly instructive as regards the rail v guided bus debate and help inform future decision making ;)
     
    Last edited: 15 Feb 2018
  20. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Stagecoach have chopped back their 26 Royston-Cambridge route. It only now continues to the city centre in the peak. Off peak it terminates at Trumpington Park and Ride, where passengers must change for an onward journey.

    This is in spite of the 26 being able to take advantage of the bus lane along a decent length of Trumpington Road right into the city centre. Admittedly the service is only hourly, but doesn't serve any great trip generators along the way (unlike The Busway).

    Not sure why you're saying the formula can't be repeated for Haverhill or Mildenhall? If it's successful, then why not? Surely success in shifting people into Cambridge outweighs any romantic notion of reopening an old railway?

    Personally I can't ever see Mildenhall having even close to an economic case for reinstatement as a railway, unless there is some colossal growth in housing along the old route. Haverhill, slightly more chance.
     
  21. OwlMan

    OwlMan Established Member

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    Driverless shuttle for Cambridge when busways are out of hours.
     
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    So the busway has beat railways to it. I did think something like that would be viable on a guided mode of transport before a non-guided one, though I'd be interested to see how they handle the parts of the route requiring manual driving, including St Ives "station".
     
  23. eastdyke

    eastdyke Established Member

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    Driverless and out-of-hous? No thanks, I'll get a taxi.
    Personal safety would be an issue for me.
     
  24. gingerheid

    gingerheid Member

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    That's kind of disappointing.

    I was hoping that by 2020 the busway would be sufficiently well used that there wouldn't be a long enough "out of hours" to justify investment in a driverless shuttle :(
     
  25. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I suspect it's the manufacturers asking if they can use the busway for a trial rather than the Council looking for an out of hours solution.
     
  26. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Not quite sure where the demand would come from for "out of hours" operation, given the segregated section ends short of demand centres.

    Best bet would be in the triangle between Cambridge station, Addenbrooke's and Trumpington Park and Ride to suit hospital night shifters. But that involves using unguided roads to actually serve stops/demand in all cases.
     
  27. philthetube

    philthetube Established Member

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    3.7 does not seem at all generous to me, a bus is wider, higher and squarer than a tube train so anything using these dimensions would have to be smaller than a standard single decker.
     
  28. Dunnyrail

    Dunnyrail Member

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    One of the things that has not been mentioned here yet re the possibility if Trams in Central Cambridge is that I believe that the Colleges who own pretty well most of the land in Cambridge just will not allow Trams in the Street. I believe that this is why that nice Mr Palmer has opted for an Underground (whatever) in Central Cambridge. My thoughts a year or two back was for a Tram that was Underground in Central Cambridge, 4-5 City Central Station, Single Line one way Only Operation to Delta Junctions popping out wherever Practical to connect all of the Park and Rides to each other. Such a system would have all the benefits and could be linked to the Main Rail Network also using Tram Trains to get out of Town further. Possibly opening up some of the older closed lines and certainly giving East West Passengers with a Change to Tram Train a direct link to the City Centre. Not cheep I know, but with a Parking Place Levy (rejected around 2 years ago in a consultation) to fund it much as Nittingham has done. The fact that such a scheme was rejected by the Motoring masses does not necesarily mean that you have to NOT do one.

    I also think that the current prefered thinking with the Battery Buses (well that is what they are, anyone remember the bendinbuses in Yory(FTR?) that were not allowed to be called a bus?), is that they are of dubious technology and that the Kinetic Envelope of a Non Guided Rail System is always going to need a larger Land Grab both above and below Ground. Pushing up costs and reducing availability of Land for Building in an area that needs (apparently) as many Properties as can be physically built.

    But it is good that something is being looked at because Cambridge is a mess to access not just in the peak either, the slightest Road Closure/Incident can bring Peak Time Traffic Chaos to the Town at any time during the day.

    Though I suspect we shall not see anything for a decade or two in spite of Mr Palmers boast that he would hit the ground running to get things done quickly when elected.
     
    Last edited: 15 Dec 2018

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