A possible £1.7bn underground ‘metro’ for Cambridge will be designed to support the area’s failing bus services and discourage car use, the region’s mayor has said.
Conservative James Palmer referred to a review of bus services that the authority has launched, which he said would ‘fully explore’ bus franchising – something other metro mayors have been slow to take forward.
He said: ‘Although I am awaiting the results of that review, what is already clear is that we have a unique opportunity to improve those services and better join them up with other modes of transport.
He added: ‘The metro offers a new way of thinking about how buses can operate and integrate within a modern transport network. The metro stations can be thought of as transport hubs, incorporating infrastructure to support walking and cycling, but will also be served by buses connecting people with onward journeys into Cambridge and beyond.’
Mr Palmer said metro stations will be designed with small car parks so as not to encourage car use. He wrote: ‘We can’t develop a transport system designed to alleviate congestion on roads that by its design still forces people into their cars.
‘Additionally, I believe that if we join up the bus services with the metro then bus use will also increase, increasing the viability of buses and giving us even more options in how they are used.’
He added: ‘This is not just a scheme for the city centre, but for the whole of the Combined Authority area, and even beyond.’
Mr Palmer told New Civil Engineer that the planned ‘Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro’ scheme, which would utilise emerging driverless and connected technology and is estimated to cost between £1.5bn and £1.7bn, could be funded through investment from ‘very, very large pension funds’, business taxes and a land value capture system.
A report to the combined authority in January, assessed that ‘there is the potential for a significant proportion of the funding to be secured locally, aligned to leveraging funding from the potential beneficiaries of the project', while the project could also be eligible for various streams of central Government funding.