New opening date set for Cambs guided bus

YOU wait for one to come along and, after a few false starts, it eventually does.

A new date has been announced for the opening of the 25km, two-part guided busway between St Ives and Cambridge. Cambridgeshire County Council said today (Thursday) that it expects the service to open to the public from Sunday, August 7.

It may be more than two years late, but councillors - and of course the very patient bus operators - have said they are delighted by the news.

Ian Bates, CCC’s cabinet member growth and planning, said: “The busway is going to provide people with a reliable, fast and frequent form of public transport, making it the best way to travel. This route is much needed in Cambridgeshire and will set the standard for rapid transit systems being built in the future.

“Since the route was handed over to us, our absolute focus has been to get buses running on the track as soon as possible, and it is great news to finally announce the date people will be able to begin taking advantage of this fantastic new service.”

The project - which was contracted to BAM Nuttall - had been expected to open in April 2009 and cost �116.2million. The reality is now that it has cost about �180m and the dispute about who picks up the extra cost is just getting going.

The cost overrun, according to the CCC’s interpretation of the contract, is shared between BAM and the council, but CCC’s says its exposure is limited to �5m.

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However, the worth of the project will be truly tested from August 8 onwards when the first commuters, students and shoppers are being urged to forsake the car journey on the A14 in favour of the smooth ride offered on the busway seven days a week.