Take a deep breath and digest the headline figure again. The new £180 million guided busway is due to open on August 7 – 30 months late and a staggering £65 million over budget.In these austere times, with central and local government financially on their knees, how is the public supposed to square this spend with across-the-board cuts that are hitting healthcare, education and a whole host of essential services?
That’s a rhetorical question. They can’t. So the taxpayer takes an additional £65m hit on top of the original cost for a system whose worth is a long way from being proved.
Cambridgeshire transport policy has always been slightly eccentric so we await with interest future solutions to ease congestion across the county.
All manner of transport ideas have been suggested for Cambridge over the years. Some highly sensible business people even proposed tunnelling under Cambridge for a cross-city highway a la Boston in the United States. The twin prospects of cost and chaos left that one parked at the kerbside as a perpetual non-runner.
To our knowledge cable cars and funicular railway systems have not yet hit the drawing board, but give it time.
Enough hot air has been expended on Cambridge transport issues over the years to warrant an academic review of the causes of global warming. And every time, we arrive back at the startpoint of this accursed cul-de-sac.
Cambridge is a medieval township whose core property is dominated by the University, presenting financial and logistical obstacles to regeneration that no-one has been able to solve – nor is likely to.
I happen to know the University would love to haul down some of its more decrepit city centre buildings – labyrinthine warrens that professional orienteers aided by native Indian scouts would struggle to navigate. Good luck with the planners, chaps.
Even where there is some semblance of visionary thinking, ideas crash into a brick wall through lack of finance. Lest we forget, the Treasury and the coffers of most local authorities are sufficiently empty to warrant the formation of a government team of professional beggars and buskers, complete with threadbare caps, ill-tuned banjos and three-legged dogs.
Perhaps they could position themselves strategically at stops along the misguided busway and seek to recover some of our hard-earned, mis-spent cash.