Thursday 3rd March 2022
Cambridgeshire Guided Busway
I was in Cambridge briefly over the weekend so took the opportunity to take a look at the interim safety measures now installed between the public footpath/bridleway and the northbound guided busway on the one-and-a-quarter mile stretch between Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge railway station.
It had been reported the independent report into the safety issues arising from two fatal accidents was due at the end of February so presumably is now imminent. Meantime, you have to wonder why on earth all the expense of installing plastic red and white bollards holding six foot high metal barriers needed to be installed when buses could have simply been banned from using the northbound guided busway for an interim period pending the report’s recommendations.
As it is, buses can’t run in the northbound direction because, as you can see, the barriers impinge on the busway itself.
Ironically there must be increased dangers from re-routing the buses along the busy A1307 Hills Road as well as huge inconvenience to passengers with a less reliable service as I reported last month.
I can’t see these measures being removed any time soon. What a great shame.
Woodside Crossing, Hassocks
After the blockade, on Monday I’d hope to take a celebratory walk through the new tunnel constructed under the Brighton Main Line at Woodside Crossing north of Hassocks. As I reported in Sunday’s blog this will provide a much safer way to use the public footpath which previously crossed the busy railway line at surface level. Sadly I can’t report back yet, nor provide you with a photograph as the footpath is till blocked off denying public access, but hopefully it will be open again very soon.
Network Rail Kent and Sussex posted some more impressive “during” and “after” construction photos on social media, so they’ll have to do for now.
Instead I diverted my walk further north, just beyond Wivelsfield station where there’s another surface footpath crossing called Bedelands…..
…. and acquainted myself once again with just how dangerous these foot crossings are especially when a non-stop train speeds through. I wouldn’t be surprised to see plans for a footbridge at this location at some point in the future.
Last minute funding deal 1
Just in the nick of time as bus companies needed to submit notifications to the Traffic Commissioners for cuts to bus routes from early next month came news from the DfT of an extension of England’s Bus Recovery Grant for a further six months until October. “Over £150 million to support vital bus and light rail services across the country” was announced on Tuesday morning. The DfT added “this funding is dependent on local areas and operators co-designing a financially sustainable and passenger focussed public transport network, that works for changing travel patterns post-pandemic”. It’s not said, but I reckon the £150 million will almost certainly be taken from the £3 billion the Government is investing into bus services in England by 2025. Or is it £1.2 billion with £525 million on zero emission buses?
Last minute funding deal 2
That TfL funding deadline of Friday 18th February I wrote about a couple of weeks ago was indeed extended for a further week to 25th February when it was announced an “Extraordinary Funding and Financing Agreement for TfL from 26 February 2022 until 24 June 2022 (the “Fourth Funding Period”)_ had been agreed between the DfT and TfL. TfL are charged with delivering a work programme “to support our shared objective of TfL reaching financial stability as soon as possible and with a target date of April 2023”. This includes generating between £0.5-£1 billion additional revenue per annum from 2023; a review of demand on London Underground, bus and rail in April 2022 to inform future service level requirements and potential changes; the establishment of a commercial property company to deliver housing in a high demand area and to provide an increased revenue stream; a review of its pension scheme with the aim of moving the Fund into a financially sustainable position.
In simple terms this seems to mean more above inflation fare increases, more cuts to bus frequencies (my Bus Cuts Tracker currently tallies 284 peak vehicles cut from 52 bus routes in the last six months), and more strikes on the Underground as RMT members protest over pension proposals.
Let’s hope there’s more certainty about the future by the time the 24th June deadline arrives in London and by August for bus routes in England outside of London when bus companies will be faced with making decisions for networks post October 2022. By then the winners and losers in the great Bus Service Improvement Plan Lottery funding settlement will be known. As will those recommendations for the Cambridgeshire guided busway. I hope.
Halifax bus station progress
Three months ago I mentioned in a blog about Team Pennine how West Yorkshire Metro are rebuilding Halifax bus station.
Now comes news of more changes to bus departure arrangements as the work, set to last until next year, continues.
Apparently there’s been a delay in supplying the printed signs to advise passengers of the updated arrangements, but you’d think they’d be able to cobble together something that looks slightly more professional even for a temporary period rather than this slapdash approach.
Calling all young bus managers
Bookings for the next conference being held in Cardiff on 7th and 8th April are now open on the Young Bus Managers Network website. It’s set to be another great programme kicking off with a site visit to Cardiff Bus, an after dinner talk from Transport for Wales chief executive James Price with the second day kicking off with Carla Stockton-Jones, managing director UK Bus at Stagecoach as well as Ray Stenning from design agency Best Impressions in the afternoon. The programme also includes a speaker about fflecsi, the Young Bus Managers Dragons Den will be back as well as two presentations from young bus managers themselves. Book now and save with an early booking discount.
Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu.
Next blog, Saturday 5th March 2022: Long bus rides: 35.