£500,000 Guided Bus stop plan sparks outrage

October 14, 2008 12:32 PM

Cambridge's new Guided Bus can't use existing bus stops because it will break its guide wheel - and taxpayers are going to have to fork out £500,000 to put it right.

They will be forced to pay up for alterations to existing bus stops and for up to 33 new purpose-built stops to allow the new bus to pick up passengers.

The staggering news, which has only just come to light, has left Cambridge Liberal Democrats outraged.

Julian Huppert, county councillor for East Chesterton said: "This is bonkers. Guided buses can't stop at the normal bus stops because they would break off their guide wheel. I find it astonishing that we have only just been told.

"This involves a huge amount of work cutting down trees to allow for new bus stops and realigning and reconstructing existing stops and it would seem that the county council has only just realised that this work needs to be done."

The work, to be paid for out of the Local Transport Plan over the next two years, will involve altering bus stops, adding new shelters and raising kerbs. New stops will be added and the work could involve a major re-design of the highway in Newmarket Road/Sun Street and redesigning the existing Grafton Centre bus stop. Disabled parking bays and pay and display parking spaces will be lost in various locations.

Members of Cambridge's environment and traffic management area joint committee were asked at its meeting on Monday to comment on the proposals for new guided bus stops, even though they had already been agreed by the county council's Cabinet.

And they were asked, but refused, to support consultation on the changes to existing stops.

They were told by county council officials that the changes were necessary because the Guided Bus, which has a non-retractable guide wheel to allow it to run on track, would not be able to pull into existing stops without damaging the wheel.

Kevin Wilkins, county councillor for West Chesterton said: "This is madness. The county council has to spend half a million pounds of taxpayers' money to prevent the guided bus from breaking its guide wheel. Why has this only just come to light? Shouldn't someone have addressed this issue before we got this far?"

Cambridge City executive councillor for growth, Sian Reid said: "We are appalled at the aggressive new programme of bus stops which seems to take no notice of their impact on the public realm and the wider issues of bus management, which would mean many more buses could use existing bus stops.

"We are also shocked to discover that the guided bus can't use normal bus stops. No-one seemed to realise this at the time the scheme was designed - we were told the guided buses would act as normal buses in the city.

"In the city centre this will result in a host of new stops in the city, leading possibly to interchange difficulties and certainly to more street clutter."

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