CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S surprisingly successful busway is celebrating its first birthday today (August 7).

In spite of doubts that it could sustain its early popularity, the longest busway in the world, which links St Ives with Addenbrooke's Hospital and Trumpington by way of an on-road section in Cambridge, has carried more than 2.5 million passengers, compared with the county council's year one forecast of 1.75 million.

Stagecoach driver Mick Capper and Whippet colleague Scott Nicoletti, who have both been praised by passengers, were on hand to mark the first birthday by presenting champagne and chocolates to Stephen Atkins of Willingham at the Longstanton park-and-ride stop. Stephen was randomly chosen and is a regular user of the busway.

County council cabinet member for growth and planning Councillor Ian Bates, pictured right at the presentation, said: "I am delighted that the busway has proved to be such a success over the last 12 months and I'm confident it will be equally popular in years to come.

"The busway has defied the critics who said it would never succeed by attracting more than 2.5 million passengers - which is 40 per cent above the predicted number of passengers for the first year, while at the same time helping to reduce traffic on the heavily-congested A14."

Stagecoach East managing director Andy Campbell, back left, added: "We are delighted that the busway has proved so popular. Because of this we are increasing frequencies on both routes A and B to every 15 minutes, offering a bus every seven or eight minutes between St Ives and Cambridge. We are also expanding hourly to Peterborough and operating peak journeys to and from Ramsey, Chatteris and Somersham."

Whippet Coaches director Peter Lee, front left, said 'I am pleased with the positive reception the public have given to this innovative service and look forward to its growth and development over the coming years'.

Busway rider Stephen Atkins is pictured celebrating the first birthday with (from left) Peter Lee, Andy Campbell, county council leader Nick Clarke, Whippet driver Scott Nicoletti, Stagecoach driver Mick Capper and Cllr Ian Bates.