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Cambourne to Cambridge Guided Busway – Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Business Board Statement of Support


Cambourne to Cambridge Guided Busway – Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Business Board Statement of Support

The Business Board, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has issued the below statement of support for the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Cambourne to Cambridge Guided Busway scheme.

The Business Board has a responsibility for supporting the sustainable economic growth of the whole of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. In 2022 the Business Board approved its Economic Growth Strategy with a primary objective to reduce inequalities between and within our distinctive sub-economies of Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough and the Fens, while also driving the jobs, higher wages and greater productivity needed to do so. These core aims have helped guide our support for the GCP’s proposals for high quality public transport routes into Cambridge, including the Cambourne to Cambridge corridor.

Our Economic Growth Strategy describes Greater Cambridge as a jewel in the crown of the UK economy. With its unique combination of world class academia, R&D and entrepreneurship, alongside globally renowned science and technology excellence, the sub-region is a crucial part of the country’s existing and future industrial success.

But the Strategy also makes clear the challenges in making its continued growth sustainable. A growing population, vastly overheated housing costs coupled with congestion and low public transport connectivity in the travel-to-work-area make it harder for people to access opportunity and enjoy the high quality of life they should expect from a prosperous economy. This has additional knock-on effects for businesses that are competing globally for the talent they need to thrive.

Pollution, long commuting times and lack of accessibility to opportunity via public transport have now become long-standing issues for Greater Cambridge. Following Covid-19, the return to commuting by public transport has lagged behind use of the private car, threatening to push pollution and carbon emissions higher, and air quality lower, unless change is implemented. There is also significant appetite in the city and wider region to do more to tackle and mitigate climate change in the area of transport.

The pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis threatens to entrench inequalities still further, and the Business Board is focusing on a lower carbon, fairer and healthier economy as we emerge from these unprecedented economic challenges.

The status quo on transport in Greater Cambridge, and for the wider area, is not viable and a different approach is needed. Delivering small interventions such as partial bus lanes on existing roads (even where possible) will not deliver the transformation required to persuade people to switch to more sustainable public transport. Public transport options need to be seen as reliable and quick if they are to be perceived as a credible alternative to the private car for those needing to access jobs in and around Cambridge.

Radically improved buses, more reliable, affordable, frequent, convenient to use and accessible to more people and communities is something the Business Board supports. We know from the experience of the Guided Busway that segregated routes away from congested roads are far more attractive as an alternative than anything where buses mix with normal traffic. Bus operators consistently tell us they cannot deliver the reliability and frequency desired without such interventions.

The opportunity provided by the C2C scheme to improve services further west into Huntingdonshire and beyond, either by services that join the busway at Cambourne or by more people using the proposed new travel hub at Scotland Farm, will open up new labour markets for those sectors struggling to recruit, and support the Economic Growth Strategy’s aims to improve connectivity across the geography, to reduce inequalities and improve access to employment, education and leisure opportunities within and between the region’s sub-economies.

The Business Board also supports the proposed active travel improvements, building on a strong base in the city which needs to benefit the wider area. It also supports the objectives of lower carbon emissions, better health and wellbeing, better air quality and improving the quality of life that should come from the additional future prosperity generated by the city and region.

The C2C scheme is contained in the emerging Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Local Transport and Connectivity Plan as being required to sustainably deliver the planned growth proposed within the current Local Plans for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.

For all of these reasons, and because the need is now pressing and further delay risks delivery of much needed homes and jobs as set out in the City and South Cambs Local Plan, we commend you to support the TWAO application to the Secretary of State tomorrow.

Alex Plant

Chair, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Business Board