Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Missed the Bus?

The Guided Bus is running late. It almost doesn’t count as ‘news’, let alone demand the use of the word ‘shock’ before it by our local paper.

Make no mistake: rail was never a realistic alternative despite everything that cast.iron/flat.earth have had to say.
However, perhaps the County’s senior transport officials should have been concentrating on getting the bus right rather than shilling for Labour’s Congestion Charge (TIF) bid?


  1. I remember being on the bus from Cambridge to Huntingdon quite recently. This bus is kitted out to run on the Guided Busway. At one point buses have to mount a pavement slightly to negotiate narrow streets that provide an alternative to a one-way road that goes the wrong way - we were delayed for quite a while, as the guide-wheels didn't allow the bus to get up.

  2. Mark Ranger - CAST.IRONNovember 18, 2009 at 9:52 AM

    I object most strongly to your flippant reference to the rail argument. Obviously, you are pleased to have thrown £150m of tax payers money at a scheme that will make not one jot of difference to the A14 when it opens. May I suggest a touch more humility and that you listen to your electorate who overwhelmingly did not want this white elephant of a scheme? I assume your picture is from the Australian guided bus, you must like it there

  3. "rail was never a realistic alternative" - so, beware the people of Ebbw Vale, Bathgate and all the other non-successful rail reopening schemes that have otherwise exceeded expectations. You'll be closed down soon, no doubt. But, hang on a moment, none of these succesful schemes are in England. Is that the problem?

  4. Dear Mr Normington,
    What an outrageous and ridiculos blog post. On what do you base your comment: "rail was never a realistic alternative"? And why do you suggest support for rail = flat earth thinking? The railways are in their biggest period of growth for decades even despite your party's botched privatisation.
    I suggest you have a serious and independently-minded look at www.castiron.org.uk. The rail alternative was always viable - we were told as much by contractors, operators and others in the rail industry. Unfortunately they would not say so in public precisely because of the privatised structure.
    Before you make such ill-informed and politically naive posts, you should check your facts. And stop trying to make out this farrago is not the Conservatives' fault - the Tories on the County are 100% responsible for this national disgrace.
    Tim Phillips, chairman, CAST.IRON

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Well… One can oppose cast.iron/flat.earth but be in favour of other rail initiatives, like the new Chesterton station, and other innovative schemes, like the DLR model. So rail ≠ flat.earth but cast.iron does.

    The Guided Bus plan was supposed to be linked to an upgrading of the A14 [upgrading is opposed by the Lib Dems]. It is worth noting that even if the delay to the bus runs for years, rather than months, it will be in service well before the promised action for the A14.

    And yes, it’s a pretty picture. It’s of a guided bus from Australia and available without copyright restrictions. I illustrated a story about the generic national usefulness of a Lib Dem MP by using another non-native photo: a rubber tree.

  7. Really Richard, I am disappointed. I saw you speak at the FeCRA hustings and thought you generally sensible, (apart from your accusation against Tony Juniper that he was proposing a "Elizabethan economy" which was a bit of a strange mischaracterisation of his views), but I can't see why you have it in for Cast.Iron other than they are a thorn in the side of the conservative ruled County Council who have managed to waste a lot of money on this ill starred scheme. If anything is 'flat earth' it is the belief that this scheme will succeed, and that people will get out of their cars and onto this bus sevice. I don't think so Richard.

  8. The Guided bus is a totally disgusting waste of public money. It should never have been forced through by political factions at what was supposed to be a democratic public meeting, when oppostion was eloquently expressed by numerous organisations, including CAST.IRON and a huge number of objectors who had signed up to a petition, calling for Rail to be re-instated.
    Had common sense won the day, then we would have, by now, a fully operational rail service betwen Cambridge and St.Ives, with planning well underway for the link from St. Ives to the ECML at or near Huntingdon.

    Then we would have had a service for the National benefit, which would not only benefit the local populous but would also provide a frieght alternative to the A14, with all the benefits derived from that.

    I my view, the Guided Bus will provide little or no benefit locally and certainly nothing Nationally.

    As for the contractural arguments and discussion regarding design and construction methods taking place now.....well, I hope a few bolt holes have been prepared !

  9. I find it hard to understand how you can equate CAST.IRON with flat earth thinking when almost everything we said about the Guided Bus in 2003 and 2004 is turning out to be true while most of what the Conservative-controlled county council claimed is turning out to be untrue (see our website, 'Latest News').

    I am not a political animal; I would be just as critical whoever the promoters were, because the scheme is almost literally garbage on its own merits regardless of any politics.

    As the MD of a firm of accountants I should naturally tend towards conservatism - but I am afraid the way people like you use language and meaningless argument is an instant turn-off and a big vote-loser.

    I am not alone.

  10. I am a deep sceptic when it comes to the county’s transport officers… but whatever one’s views on the subject between 1999 and 2009, the bus is coming.

    The decisions on rail vs guided bus on this route have all been taken: the bus won.

    We should debate and try to influence what will happen to the city over the next decade, not just sulk about the past one.

  11. "I am a deep sceptic when it comes to the county’s transport officers". Ah, so none of this failure is the fault of Conservative county members, then?

    The bus hasn't won yet. It has to be genuinely successful before you can make that claim. I am not sulking; I just want to make sure the same stupid mistakes are not made in 'the city over the next decade'.

  12. I think the smart thing for you to do Richard is to change your view and reflect the feelings of your electorate. You have just enough time before the buses start to run and chickens come home to roost.

  13. Hi Richard,

    I've just blogged on this topic...



  14. Last comments before closing this subject...

    I stand with the Cambridge News editorial which said about the bus: “The debate about whether it should go ahead is done and dusted, and construction is under way… We must all get behind it and try to make it the success we need it to be”.

    Cast.Iron correspondence is a bit like Napoleon's reflections from St Helena. Cast.Iron met its Waterloo (even if on paper they feel they should have won). The battle was lost. The war is over. Stop refighting the conflicts of the past and put your powers of analysis and advocacy to campaign for future benefits.

  15. OK, Richard, close the correspondence...

    ...but never forget the tale of the Emperor's Nedw Clothes.

  16. Interesting that in 25+ years of the Adelaide busway's existence it has never been extended or replicated anywhere else in the country. It achieves nothing that a non-guided busway couldn't achieve, and far less than a railway. Guided busways are a nonsense-solution looking for a non-existent problem.