THE guided bus is running late – months late. Cambridgeshire County Council s £116.27million project to link St Ives with Cambridge along the route of the old railway line was due to open in the spring , with late April pencilled in for the first revenue

THE guided bus is running late - months late.

Cambridgeshire County Council's £116.27million project to link St Ives with Cambridge along the route of the old railway line was due to open "in the spring", with late April pencilled in for the first revenue-earning services.

But on Monday the council said weather and disputes with the contractor, BAM Nuttall, had pushed back the opening date to "late summer". Neither officers nor Councillor Matt Bradney, cabinet member for transport, would commit themselves to a date, beyond pointing out that summer ends on September 21.

Flooding in the Fen Drayton lakes area - the last section of the guideway to be laid - followed by the recent cold snap has delayed completion of culverts, with knock-on effects on construction of embankments before the concrete guideway can be laid on top. "Delays have also occurred because of the current contract negotiations," the council added.

The contractors are demanding extra money because costs have overrun, but the council believes its liability under a tight contract is no more than £5million, which is already factored into the price-tag. The Government is contributing £92.5million.

The delay may, however, be good news for the quality of service when the public is finally allowed on. Facilities such as modern bus stops, ticket machines, real-time information and smartcard technology should not only be fully installed but tested and functional from day one - whenever that turns out to be.

* More in The Hunts Post on Wednesday.