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The Guided Bus

Cambridgeshire's Guided Bus

The Guided Bus has been well-documented since council bosses first started talking about it over a decade ago. Plans have been drawn, money has been pledged, the public has been consulted, and several thousand people have objected to it.

Guided Bus facts

  • The Guided Bus will open in Spring 2009
  • The scheme will cost a total of £116.2m
  • There are Guided Busways in Edinburgh, Leeds, Bradford and Crawley
  • Buses will run every 10 minutes in peak periods
  • The journey from St Ives to the Cambridge Science Park will take 18 minutes 
  • Fares have yet to be decided

On Monday 5th March 2007, Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander officially opened a manufacturing plant at Longstanton, which will produce the 6,000 concrete beams for the Guided Bus route between St Ives and Cambridge. The journey from St Ives to the Cambridge Science Park on the new Busway is expected to take around 18 minutes.

This is one of two planned routes, the second one connecting Cambridge Railway Station with the Trumpington Park and Ride site. 

The Guided Busway aims to ease congestion in and around Cambridge, while offering a reliable, frequent and quick service - an alternative mode of transport for Cambridgeshire's many car users.

Route of the Guided Bus

Douglas Alexander said: “This investment clearly signals the government's continuing commitment to support and promote the economy of Cambridgeshire.

"Also, at a time when we are trying to tackle congestion and promote more environmentally friendly travel, this development aims to give people better transport choices. The scheme will give local people even better access to local jobs, education, healthcare and shopping areas.”

Why do we need a Guided Bus?

Due for completion in Spring 2009 the Guided Busway will be the longest such route in Europe, stretching over 25km (15.5 miles).  The county council wants to ensure facilities are in place to cope with the extra demands of thousands of new residents - it's proposed that by 2016 more than 47,000 new houses will be built in the Cambridge area.

Edmund Nuttall Ltd has been chosen as the council's preferred bidder to carry out the work.  They set up a similar bus system between Crawley in West Sussex and Gatwick Airport, which was launched in 2003. 


"The project is going well and everyone is pleased with the progress."
Kara Hill, Communications and Media Manager for the Guided Bus

Cambridgeshire's Guided Busway scheme will cost a total of £116.2m to build and the government will pay £92.5m towards the cost.  The difference will come from developers in the area who are building the proposed new houses.  In 2004 the cost of the proposed scheme was estimated at £86.4m.  Two years later, as it launches, the cost estimate has already risen by close to £30m.

But objectors believe there are many drawbacks to the scheme including damage to the environment.  

Pro-rail campaigners Cast.Iron have opposed the Busway and called for the railway track to be restored. They say that the Guided Bus scheme failed some basic tests even before construction began, but the council argues that the Busway is a better option for the A14 corridor providing more stops for passengers, meaning that they will need just the one mode of transport to get to their destination. 

How will it work?

Buses will run every 10 minutes in peak periods and stops will be equipped with electronic screens telling passengers when the next bus is due.  

The Guided Bus

The county council says Guided Bus passenger figures could be as high as 20,000 a day within eight years of it starting. Pedestrians and cyclists can also expect new facilities, with a new bridleway and cycle route running alongside the Busway route. 

To answer critics who claim that the Busway will have a damaging effect on the environment, 16 new wildlife habitats will be established.  They will provide a suitable home for the grizzled skipper butterfly found along the disused railway. 

How will it look?

You can use the link below to watch the Cambridgeshire County Council Guided Bus team's official six minute video of the new Busway.   

video Watch the official video of the Guided Bus >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer
last updated: 26/06/08
Have Your Say
Well, it's been launched now, so it's officially going to happen - but what do you really think about the scheme?
Your name: 
Your comment: 
The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

M Gill
Delayed again ! what a farce and waste of public money, National Rail would have been a far more popular and useful option !

David, Hemingford
there could have been a direct rail link to Kings x,Liverpool St. Stansted well as in time getting freight back where it belongs. please lets get some sense into our transport system, and get rid of the often law breaking and dangerous type of freight system we now have, and all for less than half the cost,surely this will be well remembered at local election time.

This scheme is just stupid and there is no point of having this scheme. It is practically just a sat-nav but much more expensive. Well what is the point of that when you can easily put a normal car-using sat-nav onto a bus. There is no difference. Also it is just like a bus lane. Just causing more traffic to Cambridge and more pollution. What a uterly useless expensive scheme. If a bus breaks down, what are you going to do? Halt all the buses? Not impressed by this.

Ron Fletcher
An excellent idea which will be well used, i also wonder what will happen if a bus breaks down in the guide way has thuis been seriously thought about and what is the solution arrived at.

craig goldsmith
i think it is stopid

diana walsh
I think this is a great forward-looking idea. How do I become one of the first of the general public to ride on the bus?

Martin Tyler
So when a bus breaks down (as they often do) on the guided section, how does anything else get past given they cant jump lanes into oncoming buses? Should have made it a bus/taxi route and tarmac'd the lot, then in time you could have charged other vehicles (Freight even) for use of it like a toll road. Seems a poor idea and will fail in under 5 years.

Nick Watson
Google CAST IRON and read their well thought out ideas compared to what we got - a white elephant at eye watering expense to the taxpayer. Keep writing to anyone connected with the scheme - don't let the fools forget it.

I live in Longstanton and have a few questions for our Councillors, nobody has given me straight answer yet - something that bothers me greatly is : how people using the guided bus will they get to the station ? All those vehicles that now come through Erith, Willingsam, Rampton and Longstanton will they still be driving to the station? Are our villages to be inundated with more traffic ?

Should have been called the Cambridgeshire Mis-guided Busway! what an idiotic scheme

when will it be complete

Any fool with an ounce of common sense would be able to see why this can not work !!

Helen Burchell, BBC Cambridgeshire
Message to Gail, below. Our apologies for not publishing your comment sooner. This is an automated comments system, and unfortunately for a couple of weeks it wasn't very automated at all. It has only just come back on-line and your comments - both of them - have now been added. Helen Burchell, BBC Cambridgeshire website

Let's acknowledge the fact that this busway is a truly remarkable achievement!Cambridgeshire County Council has managed to create a transport system that is far more expensive than the equivalent rail option, while still managing to preserve all the snags of a bog-standard bus service.A restored rail service on the route could have continued straight through to London, as well as bypassing road congestion in Cambridge.In contrast, these buses will just sit in the traffic, as the route ends precisely where it was most needed.I can't imagine many local car commuters will be giving up their keys for this anytime soon.

Why has the BBC decided not to air my comment. Media is certainly not a fourth estate!! IS IT THAT IT MAY UPSET THE OLIGARCHY WHO CONTINUE TI ERODE OUR FREEDOMS AND xcivil liberties. we can pay tax to keep the underclass criminals ,but must not moan!! NO WONDER THERE IS A BRAIN DRAIN IN THIS COUNTRY NOW. Immigtation is the only way!

I am moving to the area to get away from the now over populated area of Essex. I am extremely angry that the guided bus is going to be built. I can testify, from experience,that it will mean that the underclass slum clearence that commit sexual assult, violent crime, drug dealing ( ie gang culture)robbery etc., will now be able to travel from Cambridge and Huntingdon, where they are being moved to at the tax payers' expence, and can then spread their criminal activity further into the Hemingfords and St Ives and surrounding villages. Sorry for bitter rant, but I haver seen 10 towns turn criminal including Upminser which has £million property. We need to act now. Complain to your Mps. We do not want a stab gang culture in the lovely St Ives areas. This is one of the last safe wholesme places in England. Complain now before it is like East london and Essex!!! Best wishes to the lovely people of St I ves and villages

Mrs Joslyn
We should think about the possible future benifits this guided bus scheme could have on our daily lives and the enviroment around us, it will go electric hopefully within the next 5 years. There will be an additional cycle/pedestrian path running beside it. The buses will be guided automatically eventually also the buses will be directly connected to the main railway system in some way in the future(a baby cant run before it learns to walk). We seem to always put down what potentially could be a good solution to local traffic issues. So Have a little faith in something good and this scheme is a good thing. Give it a chance to work before ridiculing it.

Andrew Taylor
I think it is an excellent idea and i will certainly use it instead of the car. And as a trainee stagecoach driver i will be putting my name down to drive it as soon as i pass my test.

Sylvia Saunders
Fantastic, wish we could have something like this where I live in Canada. You are so lucky....enjoy.

Sophie 13 Years
i for one think the guided bus is a great way to get around it seem enviromentally friendly and easy to access. would you rather pollute the enviroment with more cars or try to find solutions?as i am only 13 you may think my point is not valid but is it not aplicable for me to have my say on wahat is happening and the services i may be using in the near future. i think the guuided bus is a great way to get aroung in peak times as there is no worry of any unplanned accidents on main roads and therefore lowering the number of deaths on the road!!!!!

I think that the guided bus is a first step towards getting cars off the A14 but I would have preferred a tramway system. I am surprised that the leg to Addenbrookes Hpspital doesn't go to the Babraham Road Park and Ride so that people car leave their cars there. Parking at the hospital is not easy.

I'm sorry, and I know we never get on with our councils but this is the stupidest thing that ever happened in Cambridgshire. There is no logic in it at whatesoever! A railway is cheaper, faster, more environmentally friendly, will be more popular, provides a route for freight and also could provide a direct link to London for commuters. It was common sense, and 3800 people saw it and they will be the ones using it, not the single council or developers who want nothing but money. Our Victorian ancestors built a brilliant network of railways which was mutilated in the mistakes of the 1960s. So why do we continue to attack, reduce, abuse it or else exploit it for money? I support independence for Huntingdonshire: one thing for sure is that this council don't deserve it!

Swavesey Resident
I for one am very happy the scheme is progressing nicely, the cycle brigade in cambridge are such a narrow minded bunch, they think every scheme must be for them. Complaints about no cycle stowage etc. However this is a scheme for those outside Cambridge it will allow us to get to the city and to other places such as St Ives and Huntingdon, without having to drive on the dangerous A14.Currently our only alternative to the car is to use the hopeless bus service that takes and age to get to the city and does not run in the evenings and on sundays.

This should have been a mono rail as was developed at Eirith.This could have lots of plus's.ONE.The complete line could have been built on pillers.TWO.The mono rail could have gone right though the hart of Cambridge or any where we would like to go at any time.More passangers,NO CO2's ,Carbon emmisions. OH DEAR! CLEAN AIR?(Livingstone wouldn't be able to TAX this). This system has been used in Germany to great affect,but this did not have backhanders in the deal.All I can see at this moment in time is concrete and more concrete.This project is set to sink like a rock on a lake.

heidi hankinson
Anything that is done to improve traffic in Cambridge is a good thing, so I am in favour. The only thing worrying is that it does not seem possible to find a dedicated route through the city. Those big buses will just clog up the traffic inside the city even more. I know it would cost a lot of money to put the route underground, but unless something like that is done, it will only improve the A 14 (a good thing) but not traffic inside Cambridge. So what is going to be done about that?

Angry rail user
I am shocked that such an idiotic, money-wasting scheme. Even the developers know this will only attract about 2% of the car users on the A14 - and don't forget that the majority of problems on it are caused by lorries. The railway would have attracted over 20% and could have carried freight and provided a direct service to London. The public was 'consulted', then completely ignored. The buses will just get caught in the congestion around Cambridge, rather than stopping it. Who cares what the capacity of it is, if it's not being reached? The scheme is so illogical and stupid that I am seriously concerned about whether the council should be running such an important city like Cambridge.

Why an earth spend all this money on a set of guided concrete kerbs, when the driver still has to drive the bus doen this creation anyway. If they wanted to run buses down it fine!, but tarmac it and drive down it would have been far the cheaper option. As well as the allow buses, taxis could have also been allowed to use this route.Common sense from our goverment does not provail, and the only reason all this has been done,IS THIS IS THE ONLY SCHEME THE GOVERMENT WOULD PUT MONEY INTO.Amen

Steve Skinner
A short-sighted decision and a missed opportunity.Reinstating the railway with connections to the ECML and Liverpool Street lines would have been far more flexible and useful.This smacks of a political, rather than, practical decision and is probably as much to do with providing a bus service to the new housing developments as anything else.It is more expensive than the rail option,a very large number of local objectors were ignored and it will have to deal with congested, ordinary street traffic at either end of the route.Since the number of lorries on the A14 is one of the biggest contributors to congestion, the busway will have no effect on that. It is also highly unlikely that car commuters to Cambridge will switch to the bus.So how will the busway relieve congestion on the A14?Beats me.

Reinstation the railway was budgeted at £55 million yet the (mis)guided bus won the goverment round with a cost of more than double at £116 because they were frightend of having to subsidise the railway if it lost money.When the (mis)guided bus looses money-they wont have to pay a penny because they never subsidise road scemes.I agree railways cost more to maintain,but they are by far the most economic and greener method of shifting passengers plus all the infrastructure was already there waiting to be used.Im also a bit confused as to how excally buses are gonna reduce traffic on the A14 when the bulk of it is trucks.Better planning could have seen goods being transported by rail rather than road.Sad times ahead me thinks.

Mr Bacon
It will be fine untill it goes onto normal road network at cambridge. Then the same problem of solid traffic will apply at peak I think it is a total waste of an awful lot of money.

Neots Kev
Oi! whys yous lots not letting this fing go from Stneots?Its a big con man! Discriminatin gainst us lot!Not on!

Bob Edwards
This is a ghastly mistake. Smelly noisy diesel buses rather than efficient electric trams. Noisy diesel buses are not going to get people out of their cars and the effects will be marginal. Where it's not needed the buses will be guided, where guidence is needed within the town, commuters will just sit in the normal Cambridge traffic jams.

Jordan w
This will be a good idia for my mum to get to work in histon from st ives without going on the A14

Terrie Rogers
At the moment I have a door to door service. The bus stops outside my house and I have a thirty second walk at the other end. The "misguided" bus means that I have to travel to the nearest stop, spend who knows how long sitting on a bus that goes everywhere before it reaches Cambridge City Centre, and as yet we have no idea how much these journeys will be costing. This is supposed to be progress. I travel to Cambridge 5 days a week and have done for several years and, as yet, have yet to find a fellow passenger who approves of, or intends to use, the guided bus. If the service we have now is removed in favour of it I'm afraid many people will be turning to their cars.

Mark Reynoldson
This busway is an affordable way of linking Huntingdon, St Neots and Cambridge, given current populations of these settlements. As populations grow, light rail/heavy rail may indeed become viable. It will be relatively easy and cheap to convert this BRT system to a rail trackbed when required. Rail is VERY expensive, and frankly NOT the answer for this corridor at this point in time. If this was a well used corridor, Beeching would not have shut it in the first place!

Jenny Jones
Some people have really negative views, the guided bus route will reduce the congestion on the A14 and it'd be unrealistic for them to reuse the disused railway line. Besides it works in other cities.

What abouts residents of St.Neots and surrounding villages, if I wanted to go to Cambridge I would have to drive still has this guided bus only starts from Huntingdon!

Nick Baily
Waste of Money

Mr Matthews
A great example of how public opinion and common sense can be ignored in favour of vested political and financial interests . It beggers belief how these decisions are reached and how this crack pot idea could have won out over the obvious rail alternative

Bridget Lofts
I am in two minds about the Guided Bus. If it improves the bus service we have now(I live in Swavesey)I would be all for it.I would like to see a better evening service and also buses more often than hourly

An appalling waste of money for something which i have yet to find a single person who is in favour of!The budget has lept over 30 million from its initial concept,but just how much will it be on completion? What happens when a bus breaks down (which they do!) and the following vehicles cannot get around because they cannot leave the guides? A light rail system would have been a better option.

David Booth
This is a total waste of money. 'Guided' has no advantages over 'unguided' unless you couple several buses together, or unless the driver's half awake - but that won't work when you get to Cambridge. It does not solve the cross-country freight issue, and each passenger will be subsidised to the tune of £10!. This is ludicrous, simply ludicrous.

John Latham
An absurd and disgusting waste of money which will produce a dangerous slow and enviromentally damaging scheme. The railway is the only strategic option and both central and local government have failed to recognise what both common sense and vision for regional and national transport require. The 'consultation' and enquiry were cynical and ignored the objections which outweighed those in favour by close to 1000 to 1. Another dreadful example of how standards in public life have fallen. The priority is to sort out the A 14. This is an expensive sop whilst the wheels grind slowly. The money would have been much better spent in many other ways, including accelerating improvements to the A14. Above all the railway was and still should be the answer. Sadly it now seems that this ghastly juggernaut is unstoppable.

Mr Tham
Whats stopping me driving my car down the guideway to avoid speed camera. I will pay 300 to use lane yes?

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