Transport Matters & Greater Cambridge City Deal

CambridgePPF Transport and Greater Cambridge Partnership (formerly City Deal)

Cambridge’s chronic traffic congestion risks jeopardising the future prosperity of the city. Key staff for our expanding high-tech sector will not want to work in Cambridge if they are forced to live way out of town where house prices are more affordable if this means spending hours every day sitting in traffic jams trying to get to work. Resolving this problem will require creative thinking. With the £500million from the GCP, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something really original and innovative. Unfortunately such high aspirations do not seem to be on the GCP’s agenda.

The funding is to be targeted mainly at engineering projects designed to improve the traffic flow at bottlenecks, when evidence shows all this does is simply to move the congestion further down the road. CambridgePPF believes that what is needed is a fundamental re-think of the balance between the demand for road use by drivers and the capacity of the road network to accommodate this demand. The GCP approach focuses on increasing capacity with the bulk of the funding allocated to engineering projects. We doubt whether on its own this will make the long-term difference we need. Instead we argue that investment in capacity must be accompanied by measures to reduce demand as part of a balanced package. We believe that drivers will give up their cars only if there is a reliable, efficient, and cheap (preferably free) public transport alternative, and that the best way of providing this alternative is for those who wish to continue using their cars to pay.

Some form of user charge could provide a sustainable source of funding to subsidise an efficient P&R bus service. This payment would need to include both internal city dwellers as well as external commuters. By combining with an emission charge so that bigger cars pay more, this will help make the charge more socially equitable whilst improving the city’s air quality. This approach and a number of other recommendations are set out in our statements below. The following button will take you directly to the Greater Cambridge Partnershp website.


Check our submissions regularly for responses to City Deal and Transport issues below!

CambridgePPF Principles for a Transport Strategy for Greater Cambridge

As the population and economy of the Greater Cambridge area has grown, so has the problem of traffic congestion. Significant levels of population growth are planned for the period up to 2031 and beyond, which poses a risk of congestion becoming chronic.  This could create a number of threats to the green setting and heritage of the area as well as to quality of life and long-term prosperity.

Maintaining Cambridge as an attractive compact historic city in its green setting with corridors of countryside reaching into the city centre can be achieved only if new large-scale development is located outside the Green Belt. The sustainability of this development strategy requires that people can move effectively between these new residential developments and places of employment in and around the City.

Inappropriate or ineffective infrastructure projects can damage the area’s environment and heritage without solving the congestion problem. Providing an effective solution to Cambridge’s traffic congestion that does not cause unnecessarily harm to the environment and heritage is one of the areas greatest challenges.

In CambridgePPF’s opinion, the approach adopted to date has lacked clarity about its long-term goals, comprising a piecemeal approach of disjointed projects to improve public transport and deter car drivers – new bus-lanes, improved cycling opportunities, restricted street parking, and the like. Whilst some of these initiatives are welcome and are likely to make a positive short-term difference, they lack a coherent strategic framework to provide the necessary integration and mutual reinforcement to produce an effective long-term strategy. It is our concern that without a strategic framework of what we want our transport policy to deliver, we will continue with individual short-term measures that will fail to generate the changes we so urgently need.

CambridgePPF sets out below a suite of Principles for a Transport Strategy for the Greater Cambridge Area. They will provide a clear basis for CambridgePPF to assess the merits and shortcomings of potential transport initiatives. It is our hope that these will also stimulate debate about what is required for a coherent and consistent approach to transport planning for Greater Cambridge.


The Fundamental Principle – Modal Shift

The long-term goal of any transport strategy for the Greater Cambridge area must be modal shift – to get drivers to use other modes of transport instead of private cars or to car share. This requires more than just making available an attractive public transport alternative. It will also require active measures to discourage car use – there is no point in creating new bus-ways if the buses continue to run half empty and the roads remain congested. Disincentives to drive can include both passive measures, like road closures, bollards, and restrictions on parking, as well as active demand management, including financial measures.

The approach to date appears to be based on an assumption that make improved public transport available and the public will use it in preference to their cars. Experience from other cities shows that people are reluctant to change their travel behaviour, and will do so only when it involves a direct personal cost or motivational trigger.

All measures proposed to improve city access and alleviate congestion must be able to demonstrate the direct contribution they make to the basic goal of generating modal shift.

Secondary Principles

Provide a Real Choice of Transport Mode:

The travelling public should be provided with a real choice of transport options to meet their individual needs. With the squeezing of services, especially in rural areas, many people now do not have this choice and have no option but to use the car. Public transport options can include heavy and light rail as well as buses but there needs to be connectivity and integration between modes, including walking, cycling, and the car. Rather than routing services through the city centre, people want options linking where they can leave their car (at home or Park & Ride sites) with their place of work.

Secure a Sustainable Long-Term Source of Revenue Funding:

The travelling public will switch transport mode only if the alternative is safe, reliable, convenient, and cheap. This will inevitably require a substantial level of subsidy, so where will this come from when Local Authorities are in no position to provide?  One option is through financial demand management so that those who chose to drive, rather than use upgraded public transport, contribute directly to the cost of that alternative. Obviously, any such charge must be applied in a way that is equitable and fair, and does not discriminate against any one section of the travelling public.

Adopt a Sub-Regional Approach:

Whilst the primary focus of the congestion problem may relate to access to Cambridge, the alleviation measures must be developed in a much wider sub-regional context covering the surrounding rural areas, where bus services are declining, and links to the nearby market towns

New Innovative Thinking:

Cambridge has an international reputation for innovation and this should be reflected in its transport systems. New technologies in the transport sector are rapidly coming on-stream, like high speed mass transit systems, electric buses, driverless vehicles, and zero polluting engines.

Old polluting buses are likely to become obsolete in the near future so whilst they may play a short-term role, they do not represent an attractive long-term option. We need Cambridge to be at the forefront of developing radical new transport options.

Social and Environmental Considerations:

New transport infrastructure can be socially and environmentally damaging so transport planning should seek the least disruptive option. Transport development should be subject to the same sustainability assessment as any other development, and such analysis should be undertaken early in the planning to eliminate options that are clearly damaging.  Making maximum use of existing infrastructure by locating future growth where infrastructure for sustainable transport already exists, or can be easily upgraded, will minimise damage.  The potential of tunnelling to move large numbers of people around the city without impacting on the medieval streets, historic buildings and countryside setting, should be explored.

Tackle Air Pollution:

Cambridge’s air quality not infrequently breaches European and UK legal limits for NO2 emissions from vehicle, particularly bus, emissions.  Less polluting transport options need to be considered, including the creation of an expanded Air Quality Management Area with an Emissions Charge to drive within the zone. If more buses are to be routed into the centre of Cambridge, these must be hybrid or electric to minimise the impact on air quality.

Timescales, Planning, and Future-Proofing:

Some practical measures can be taken to alleviate traffic congestion in the short-term whilst others will take many years to prepare and consult, but this longer lead-in time should not preclude their inclusion in a comprehensive transport strategy for the future. What is needed is the clarity of a long-term plan that sets out the full picture incorporating all measures rather than just a basket of short-term projects. All measures should have a timetable showing when they will be implemented and for how long they may be expected to run. Significant investment in short-term measures should clearly be avoided if such actions are likely to be quickly superseded by more ambitious longer-term initiatives. However, the complete strategy, including both short-and long-term measures, is needed and needed now.

Latest CambridgePPF Submissions on City Deal:

CambridgePPF has issued a statement on the City Deal on 15 December 2016. View the full statement here.

CambridgePPF publishes press release on reconsideration of congestion charging since control points are being scrapped- cambridgeppf-asks-citydeal-reconsider-congestion-charge-final

CambridgePPF submits response to the initial A428 Cambourne to Cambridge options- cambridgeppf-resp-to-a428-corridor-101016

CambridgePPF submits response to consultation on Tackling Congestion- cambridgeppf-resp-to-tackling-congestion-101016


Older submissions:

CambridgePPF resp to A1307 consult 010816

CPPF CityDeal Board Letter. 07.06.16

CambridgePPF press release on Congestion Reduction Package – City Deal

FINAL CambridgePPF Chisholm Trail 121115

FINAL CambridgePPF rsp Cambourne_Cambridge 041115

CambridgePPF resp Milton_Histon City Deal 150216

CambridgePPF City Deal Western Orbital final response 7.3.16


CambridgePPF Statements on Transport Matters:

CPPF Transport Statement Final 18.5.16

CambridgePPF Transport Strategy

CambridgePPF Case for a Congestion Charge

Congestion Charge Presentation

Chairman, Robin Pellew, recently gave a speech to the local residents of Cambridge on the some of the City Deal proposals. This focused mainly on congestion charging as part of an overall package of recommendations to the City Deal Executives. In addition, CambridgePPF’s preferences and comments on the Cambourne to Cambridge public consultation.   Click on the link below to see this presentation: CambridgePPF presentation to residents Congestion Charge

Cambridge Past, Present & Future are pleased to be working with Cambridge web designers ibe, who kindly donated the design of this site.

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