After 3 weeks in England, it is blindingly obvious that every local and regional (County) Council is asking itself the question: ‘what will our cities and towns be like in 20 years if we just do ‘business as usual’ and don’t seriously address the growing car problem?’
Not one of the ones I’ve seen has taken the ‘build more roads’ option – the political colour of the local and national administrations seems to make liitle difference, except round the edges. I’ve seen Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat and even one Green city administration – they are all working hard on public transport and cycling & walking solutions to ensure their communities are liveable in the future.
One transport innovation that has the Brits justifiably enthusiastic is the newly opened ‘Cambridgeshire Guided Busway’ – the longest such in the world, with a total length of over 32kms. In an area similar in size and population to the central Waikato, the Conservative Party-led equivalent of the regional Council has developed a dedicated bus network, partly on old railway lines, linking 2 outlying commuter towns and 2 new development areas (one not yet built) to the old centre of Cambridge, the well-known University town with a 90,000 population.
The buses travel up to 90kmh out of the city, but just use the normal bus routes and bus lanes inside Cambridge. In every respect bar the small mechanical guide wheels they are normal new buses similar to the Hamilton Orbiters (except for a couple of double-deckers, but in the first month recorded a 92% increase in passenger numbers over the last month of the routes they replaced.
Well-used shared cycle/walkways parallel the guided busway out of the towns, linking also to a nationally important wetland area that was previously run down and almost inaccessible to the public.