Summary Report

8. Comparison

Comparison of the Options

Cambridge Futures has assessed the likely impact in the Cambridge Sub-region of the 2003 Cambridgeshire Structure Plan. It has concluded that the Structure Plan makes a substantial contribution towards the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the area. By allowing an expansion of the City in selected areas of the green belt and a new settlement, economic and social development will improve and if the expansion areas were well designed, the environmental quality of the Sub-region would be preserved.

The results obtained by Cambridge Futures indicate that the expansion of the built up areas of the City and the overall Sub-regional growth would produce more congestion. This is despite the introduction of transport improvements to the A14 trunk road and the implementation of rapid transit linking Huntingdon with Cambridge.

The increase in congestion would risk the continuation of Cambridges success.

To reduce the transport problems, Cambridge Futures has investigated four options in isolation and one in combination:

  • Cycling and walking has not been assessed separately, but are clearly beneficial.
  • Public Transport produces results that are positive in terms of sustainability. However, the cost of implementing the option is too large for the modest benefits obtained. Improving public transport would not be sufficient to attract passengers from cars in large enough numbers to be able to solve the transport problems of Cambridge.
  • Orbital Highway produces substantial benefits in terms of savings in money, time and inconvenience. It would probably be fundable under economic criteria. It would have an adverse environmental impact around the south and east of Cambridge but this can be mitigated by the construction of a tunnel, which would reduce the visual impact in a sensitive landscape area of the south east of Cambridge.
  • Congestion Charging does have benefits in terms of time savings, as well as a positive impact on the environment, reducing congestion and therefore carbon emissions. Although financially and technically possible, the overall user benefits are negative, demonstrating that this option, on its own, would not be attractive and would therefore encounter resistance from the public.
  • Combined Option generates positive economic as well as environmental benefits within Cambridge. It can, in theory, partially fund the investment cost of the expansion of public transport and the orbital highway, but this would depend on the length of time that the revenues from congestion charging are kept by the local authorities.

The table below summarised the feasibility of each option. It can be seen that the Public Transport Option gives poor returns while the Combined Option gives a return that might be acceptable for infrastructure projects.

Item Sub-item Cycling Walking Public Transport Orbital Highway Congestion Charging Combined Option
Investment Costs Total Costs 2 409 120 8 539
Annual Benefits User: tolls   - - -41.4 -38.6
  User: cost savings   1.4 1.1 3.3 5.7
  User: time savings   2.6 6.4 20.6 28.2
  User: convenience   -1.6 6 -6.1 -1.1
  User Total Benefits   2.4 13.5 -23.6 -5.8
  Operator Total Benefits   - - 33.3 30.4
  Government Benefits   -0.1 1,3 -2.8 -1.3
  Total Benefits   2.3 14.8 6.9 23.3
Rate of Return Social - <1% 12% 86% 4%

The comparison takes the Structure Plan as the Base Case, so all the results are relative to that case.

The table below summarises the sustainability for all of the options. All of them score equally or higher than the Base Case, except for Congestion Charging Option, which scores highly in terms of environmental protection, but poorly economically and the Orbital Option, which scores less on environmental quality.


Base Case: Structure Plan ** *** **
Cycling & Walking ** *** ***
Public Transport *** *** ***
Orbital Highway ***** *** ***
Congestion Charging * ** *****
Combined Option **** **** ***

It is clear that further transport improvements will be needed in the Cambridge Sub-region beyond those already committed if the anticipated rates of local economic growth are to be sustained.

It is hoped that his exhibition helps the public and decision makers to understand what the foreseeable consequences would be of different transport policy directions, which will inform the debate about what transport policy is appropriate for the future of Cambridge.

Introducing the Study Base
Cycling/ Walking Public Transport Orbital Highway Congestion Charging Combined Option Options Compared