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Proposals for a new busway serving Haverhill to Cambridge commuters need a 'rethink' says MP




South Cambridgeshire’s MP Anthony Browne has called for a “pause” on the Cambridge South East Transport (CSET) and Cambourne-to-Cambridge busway plans.

The two projects have an estimated cost of around £300 million and would see purpose-built routes created exclusively for buses, walking and cycling – with the CSET proposal connecting the Biomedical Campus with a proposed new travel hub next to the A11, in between Babraham and the Abingtons, which would provide a link for Haverhill commuters.

Mr Browne, a Conservative, said he recognised the need for high quality public transport links, but argued there have been “major changes in circumstances” since the busways were first proposed that means the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) should “pause and reassess the suitability of both schemes”.

The options considered for the Cambridge South East public transport route. The GCP's executive board chose the brown route as their preferred option
The options considered for the Cambridge South East public transport route. The GCP's executive board chose the brown route as their preferred option

He added: “It was always intended that Cambourne-to-Cambridge and Cambridge South East Transport would ultimately form part of the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM).

“However, the new mayor (of the Cambridgeshire and Peter borough Combined Authority, Dr Nik Johnson) has announced his intention to cancel the CAM, so we need to be confident that these busways will integrate with the new mayor’s plans for public transport in our area.

“While we wait to understand his alternative proposals, there are other questions that need to be answered by the GCP.”

Anthony Browne, South Cambridgeshire MP. Picture: Keith Heppell
Anthony Browne, South Cambridgeshire MP. Picture: Keith Heppell

A GCP spokesperson said: “The GCP’s high quality public transport routes have always been designed to meet the growing needs of the greater Cambridge area, as set out in the local plans, to transform journeys for people getting in or out of Cambridge.

“These schemes – which were planned as standalone projects – are progressing and our executive board will consider the next steps at their meeting on July 1.

“Each route could also serve as part of a wider Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, but the future of the metro is subject to decisions by the new mayor of the combined authority.”

Mr Johnson wants to scrap his predecessor James Palmer’s metro plans and shift the priority to buses, taking the county’s bus network back under public control.

Dr Nik Johnson, the new Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority seen in Ely where the mayor's office is based. Picture: Keith Heppell.
Dr Nik Johnson, the new Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority seen in Ely where the mayor's office is based. Picture: Keith Heppell.

Following the change in leadership in the mayor’s office, Mr Browne said: “We need to be confident that these busways will integrate with the new mayor’s plans for public transport in our area.”

Mr Browne is also calling for a review of the busways’ business cases to take into account the impact of East West Rail and an expected shift to more home working even once the pandemic is over.

The GCP board approved a “preferred route” for the Cambridge South East busway last year, and has been undertaking detailed environmental impact assessments.

In his mayoral campaign, Dr Johnson called for the GCP to “reconsider” the Cambridge South East route.

The GCP does not use the term “busway” to describe the proposals. It says the schemes are “high quality” transport links planned for four key corridors around Cambridge.

The routes would also be accompanied by investment in parts of the surrounding road network, new walking and cycle lines, and new park and rides.

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