Cambridgeshire Guided Busway – User Research (UK)



Cambridgeshire Guided Busway – User Research (UK)

Authors

Dr Alan Brett, Atkins Highways And Transportation, Bob Menzies, Cambridgeshire County Council

Description

Research to gain better understanding of the impacts of a high quality bus system in the UK context, examining the Busway usage to identify the characteristics of Busway users and the transport effects of the Busway.

Abstract

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, the longest in the world with almost 25km of segregated guideway, opened in August 2011, providing high quality bus services on core routes in the corridor connecting Huntingdon, St Ives, Cambridge City Centre, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Trumpington Park and Ride site. The Busway was built as part of a package of measures to address congestion problems in the Cambridge to Huntingdon corridor and support the continued economic growth of the Cambridge sub-region. The Busway enables bus services to avoid congestion on the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge, one of the most congested sections of all-purpose dual carriageway road in the UK. The opening of the Busway resulted in an immediate near doubling of bus patronage being reported by the main operator in the corridor, with patronage at a level not expected until 2 years after opening. The service frequency, operated commercially, has been enhanced considerably since opening to cope with the passenger numbers, peak departures from St. Ives rising from 10 at opening to 17 in October 2012, a 70% increase in 14 months. Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) and Atkins recognised that the opening of the Busway provided an opportunity to gain better understanding of the impacts of a high quality bus system in the UK context. This was considered of particular importance given the lack of any previous detailed monitoring of such systems. Thus CCC and Atkins have jointly funded research examining the Busway usage to identify the characteristics of Busway users and the transport effects of the Busway. Passenger interview surveys were undertaken over two days in Spring 2012, collecting a total of 855 responses, exceeding the target of 800 interviews required to achieve high levels of statistical confidence. The analysis provides a unique insight into the travel effects of very high quality bus services and demonstrates the importance of delivering high quality in all aspects of a bus system. Some unexpected results are revealed, including very high numbers of users who had a car available for their journey and also a high proportion of former car users with free parking available in Cambridge. This paper provides an overview of the research results with comparison to other data sets where available. This unique research provides vital information to enhance the successful delivery of high quality bus systems throughout the UK and overseas. Further analysis of the data is ongoing and will form part of this paper.

Publisher

Association for European Transport