Bus Special: All change for new bus lane

PLANNERS at Huntingdon and District Buses are busy redrafting timetables after Huntingdon s first-ever bus lane came into commercial use today (Wednesday). The contra-flow lane along the Walden Road stretch of the town s ring road means buses can now turn

PLANNERS at Huntingdon and District Buses are busy redrafting timetables after Huntingdon's first-ever bus lane came into commercial use today (Wednesday).

The contra-flow lane along the Walden Road stretch of the town's ring road means buses can now turn right from George Street, shaving up to 15 minutes off journey times compared with making a tour of the ring road.

It is automatically triggered by right-turning buses from a dedicated lane at the re-phased George Street traffic lights.

The scheme also included installation of toucan crossings on all four legs of the George Street junction, so cyclists are no longer breaking the law when they ride across the pedestrian crossing. The crossing by the bus station has also been converted for cyclists.


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Parallel to the bus lane is a new shared lane for pedestrians and cyclists.

Combined with the new bus turning arrangement at the railway station, the new facility - less than one minute's journey compared with the seven minutes in the current timetable - means the company will press ahead with additional services to the railway interchange, said managing director Dennis Upton.

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And he will be pressing the county council and Network Rail, which owns the station approach, to change the geometry of the Brampton Road junction to enable his vehicles to turn left.

Mr Upton said services to and from the south-west of the town would not only be quicker but could become more frequent.

Completion of the £1.45million bus lane - the only one in Cambridgeshire reserved solely for service buses, with taxis and cycles excluded for traffic management and safety reasons - has brought to an end months of serious off-peak delays on the ring road.

Cambridgeshire County Council project manager Mike Eatock said: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank the people and traders of Huntingdon for their patience."

Huntingdon's mayor, Councillor Jennifer Sarabia, said the new lane would reduce congestion.

"The buses will save on fuel and therefore we shall have less pollution, giving us a cleaner environment to live and work in," she added.

Future bus measures planned for the area include westbound bus lanes in Hartford - at Old Houghton Road and along Hartford Road - and an eastbound lane from the B1090 along Houghton Road to Hill Rise junction in St Ives.

* The bus lane had some minor engineering work carried out this week to ensure buses with a longer wheelbase can make the turn.

What the firms say

Huntingdon & District:

Dave Oakerbee, controller, said: "In this day and age with one company competing against another it can be difficult for passengers to get joined-up timetabling.

"We try to update our stops regularly and real-time information is common.

"There is a multi-bus ticket available, allowing passengers to switch between companies.

"In terms of pricing, we are governed by fuel and running costs. We do try to keep costs down but we can't help the cost of fuel."

Stagecoach

Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach Cambridgeshire, said: "Where possible, we try to build in cross-company times into our timetables.

"Traveline is an opinion for passengers, but it is not as accurate as it should be.

"I would be very surprised if any bus user felt that the transport was expensive, given the Day Rider Plus allows travel throughout Cambridgeshire for £4.50."

Whippet

No one senior enough at Whippet was available for comment as The Hunts Post went to press.

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