AS a frequent off-peak traveller to Cambridge for years I’ve enjoyed the Stagecoach service 55 from St Ives bus station to central Cambridge.
It whisked me there in 25 to 30 minutes along the A14, with three buses an hour, leather seats and Wifi.
Given Cambridgeshire County Council's blizzard of publicity trumpeting the guided busway as 'reliable, fast and frequent', and the long wait, and the nearly £200million spent, I was confident that it would be even better than the 55 service it replaced.
But it was not to be!
- Over the first couple of weeks most guided buses ran 10 or more minutes late. And the journey itself took longer than timetabled. The Whippet 1A service along the A14 was quicker and more reliable. There's been some improvement since, but a lot of guided bus services still run late.
- The off-peak journey is timetabled to take five minutes longer from St Ives and Huntingdon to central Cambridge than did the 55.
- Stagecoach runs the same frequency service at it did before (that's unless you're prepared to slog out of town through the rain to catch the new service A from the St Ives Park & Ride).
- Nor has the once-promised through service to Hinchingbrooke materialised. I thought that was the justification for the cost and disruption involved in building the contra-flow bus lane along the Huntingdon ring road.
Don't get me wrong, I've long felt privileged to live in St Ives with better bus services than many towns of its size. And I appreciate the effort that's been put into getting the busway up and running. But with all the hype and the waiting, and all that money spent, I expected something better than I had before.
It was not to be.