Stagecoach East has confirmed that the start of driver training on the new Volvo B8L/ADL Enviro 400XLD double deck buses for the Cambridge Busway is ready to start. Subject to the re-opening of the Busway between Histon and Orchard Park they could carry their first passengers in February next year.
The Busway has been closed due to the construction work on the A14 trunk road which is due to be completed shortly.
Stagecoach East says that it intends to re-launch its Busway operations and central to its plans are 18 new buses representing investment of £5 million.
12 of the buses are the 13.4 metre-long try-axle ADL Enviro 400XLBs whilst the remaining six will be Volvo B8RLEs with MCV eVora bodywork, which will be delivered in early 2020. Similar vehicles are already successfully operated by Lothian Buses in Edinburgh.
Rather than replacing existing vehicles on a one-for-one basis most will be additional buses and used to increase service frequencies and the number of buses using the Busway each day. Around 30 more drivers have been recruited to work the increased Busway services.
Whilst the timetable is still being finalised it is expected to include buses every five minutes at peak times on some sections of the route. There could also be more services through to towns and villages at the Western end of the route.
The introduction of the longer double deck buses means that the A and B services will swap the routes they take into Central Cambridge with the B routes via the Science Park and the A operating via Shire Hall. It is also proposed that some journeys on the B will extend beyond Drummer Street Bus Station in Cambridge to serve the main Cambridge Rail Station.
At Drummer Street the plan is for Bay 10 to be used, with Bay 11 then taken out of use to allow the longer buses to access the stand and reverse off it.
The Enviro 400XLBs are able to carry 134 passengers with 98 of them seated, an increase of 26 seats over most of the existing double decks used on the route. meeting the latest in emissions standards we estimate that each new double deck could replace between 50 and 75 cars on the roads. These new buses also have bell pushes on the backs of each seat, USB charging facilities, WiFi and air chill. Glazed areas give a brighter feel to the staircase area. Driving mirrors are also replaced by high definition cameras.