It's a train! It's a bus! It's the Cambridge guided busway! (video)
The longest guided busway in the worldFriend of the site Clarence has the perfect introduction for this very interesting idea: "Sometimes just when you really think you have seen or heard of just about everything in the transportation world you come upon something that went under your radar. That happened to me while on a infrastructure tour with cycling advocates in Cambridge, UK. when we came along what is called a Guided Busway." Like Clarence, I had never heard of guided busways before, but now that I've seen it, I can't help but think that they could make sense in many places around the world as a cheaper alternative to rail and a faster alternative to buses that have to share congested public roads all the time.
The way the Cambridge guided busway works could be described as a close cousin to other Bus Rapid Transits (BRTs), but this one re-used existing rail infrastructure, converting it into a special narrow bus lane where the bus is literally guided by low walls and guiding side-wheels (see below).
"The Cambridge system is the longest guided busway in the world and is designed so that drivers do not even have to hold the wheel on the 16 miles of guided sections," says Clarence." Bus speeds can reach up to 55 mph. And even more impressive is the fact that a busy bike/walking path runs adjacent to the route."
As you can see from the photos, unlike traditional pavement the busway is naturally draining and leaves a lot of green space.
For more details and to see it in action, check out this great short video by Clarence:
Do you think your town could use a guided busway? If you know who's in charge, forward this article to your local city planners and politicians!