Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Guided Busway: Full Speed Testing *Soon*

For those of you who aren't avid readers of the Histon Impington Courier the following article has been published;

“We have received three independent reports .........that FULL SPEED tests on the guided busway have been planned for early December without public notice.  Parish councils have asked to be informed of the dates so people can be notified, however, it is uncertain if this will happen.   They were told that anyone who uses the guided busway track is technically trespassing.  The implication is clear - any injuries are solely the responsibility of the trespasser. 

As we all know, the unused busway has become a de-facto cycleway, walking path, and dog exercise area.  Go any day and you will see scores of people using it including many school children.  That fact is well known by all of the parties involved in the Busway Project. The lack of any signage to warn people it is unsafe means that the public has been placed in a position of unacceptable risk. 

The tests are to be carried out at 'full speed' - meaning 50-60 mph - and may begin as early as this Wednesday 1st December.   Those using the track as a cycle way may suddenly be surprised by a speeding guided bus coming up fast from behind.  Injury or death could result. 

We have been told the lack of public notice has to do with legal disputes between the busway contractors and County Council. "It's complicated" we have been told. No it's not! PUBLIC SAFETY COMES FIRST.”

Clearly this is very very alarming stuff - or would be if it was true. The County Council has released a "clarification";

“The note received from Histon and Impington Courier is incorrect and no buses are planned to run on the route this week.

BAM Nuttall need to complete the process of testing traffic signals and part of the work will be done this week - but without any buses running. BAM Nuttall has said buses will run on the route in the next couple of weeks, but as agreed with local parish councils at a Forum meeting last week, Cambridgeshire County Council will send a press release in advance and Forum members will also be informed. At the Forum meeting last week the Council initially expected BAM Nuttall to run buses later this week, but the contractor has confirmed this will be in the future.

Please note that buses have already run at full speed on every section of the Guided Busway successfully.

As has been stated throughout the project, the entire Busway route is BAM Nuttall's construction site and officially members of the public should not use the route to walk or cycle. However, as the route has been in the main complete (apart from defects that need to be corrected) for some time it would not have made sense for BAM Nuttall to block the route so people could not use the maintenance track.

The Council still expects the contractor to complete all the project by mid-January, but work will be required to fix the defects.

As the commissioning period for BAM Nuttall comes into effect people will still be able to use the maintenance track, but using the concrete track is not advisable.”

The guided busway has been a massive drain on the transport resources across the County but as it nears completion the Bus Operations are very conscious that members of the public have been using the busway as a cycleway/ dog walking ground/ etc. for the last year it's very unlikely they think that one Monday morning they're going to be able to have buses tearing down the guideway without giving any kind of warning and not having an accident.

And despite what the original article says because it's clear the Busway has been used as something outer than a Busway for quite a while (something the County Council response seems to accept) I severely doubt that any court would put the sole blame on the "trespasser" for any accidents.

This does of course assume that buses will actually start to run;