Commuter gets first hand experience on Guided Bus

This summer, the Cambridgeshire guided bus will open for business, ferrying people between St Ives and Cambridge. But would you forsake your car commute for the new bus? Last week we put A14 commuter SIMON RUTT on a finished section of the guideway to see

This summer, the Cambridgeshire guided bus will open for business, ferrying people between St Ives and Cambridge. But would you forsake your car commute for the new bus? Last week we put A14 commuter SIMON RUTT on a finished section of the guideway to see if he could be persuaded from his motor.

HAVING spent the past two months commuting up and down the A14 from St Ives to Cambridge, battling past the broken down vehicles, numerous accidents, hundreds of lorries and far, far too many vehicles for the size of road, I was looking forward to getting away chauffeured around.

Sitting back on a comfortable bus would be a pleasure.

However, the A14 is a cruel mistress and was not going to let my disloyalty go unpunished.

On my car journey from St Ives to work in Cambridge I found myself sitting in yet another jam and was late for work...again.

Hopefully, the bus journey would put me in a better mood.

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The new Stagecoach bus was leaving for its test journey along the guideway from Milton.

Onboard would be a variety of councillors and Stagecoach directors, eager to see the public reaction to the new all singing, all dancing buses and the concrete guideway.

As the bus arrived at the site, I began to feel a little disappointed. On first sight the vehicle looks just like any other bus.

And as I would normally shy away from public transport, Stagecoach really had its work cut out to convince me that, even though the traffic on the A14 is a nightmare most mornings, I should start taking this ordinary looking bus to work.

On closer inspection, as I set foot onto the vehicle, I noticed the cleanliness, comfortable leather seats, air conditioning (which means no more stuffy smelly buses) and power points for laptops.

The bus even has free wi-fi and CCTV, which in my mind is a fantastic idea - hopefully causing the few unruly element that may use the busway to think again before causing any trouble.

Having taken my seat before the bus sets off for one of its first journeys on the new busway, Bob Menzies, Cambridgeshire County Council's head of delivery, and Philip Norwell, commercial director, of Stagecoach, explained that the idea for the busway was to help the business user.

Instead of sitting in rush-hour traffic, they said, business men and women would be able to get to their destination in a comfortable manner without the stress and jams.

They even went as far as guaranteeing getting the user to work on time every day.

The journey started and I began testing the wi-fi - and it works. But it was as I was surfing the internet that I noticed how smooth the vehicle felt travelling along the newly laid track.

It's also quick. The bus can travel at up to 56mph without having to worry about slowing down for accidents, those horrible lorries or the sheer volume of traffic. This was suddenly becoming an option as my favoured mode of transport once the entire track has been completed.

I could leave the car at St Ives and travel in comfort, catching catch up with some work on route if need be.

I do hope that the guided bus will be a success and believe it could do a lot to alter the perception of public transport in Cambridegshire.

But it will depend on the buses staying fresh and clean as they are now, and of course ensuring they run on time.

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