To Ada Lovelace

By Dr Gabriel Fox

We walk in beauty up the hill
To gaze o’er meads at prospect far.
Nor track nor bus disturbs the still,
And rural peace outruns the car.
And yet this timeless vision will
Be ripp’d to keep us as we are.

For Cambridge, now the rush hour’s there,
Is hard to get to, and we’re told
That only changing modal share,
By infrastructure brave and bold,
Can get us moving, free from care,
Not stuck in traffic, growing old.

God! Should I stop and take a bus,
And get me to Cambridge without fuss?
For there is a bus, a Citi four,
Whose aim is true, whose route is sure;
And Cambridgeshire, yes Cambourne too,
Can use that bus – yea many do.
But hold, for even now it’s stuck;
And those aboard cry, “What the – what bad luck!”
And where’s it stuck? Not at Cambourne;
Nor on the 428 past Bourn.
Nor yet past Highfields Caldecote.
By Hardwick, then? No, not a jot.
Indeed the route is fair and free
Right up until the thirteen-three.
’Tis only there, on Madingley Rise,
That morning traffic woes arise.
So what’s to do to solve this block,
And let the men and women flock
From Cambourne, Bourn and all parts west,
To work and play (and all the rest)
In Cambridge city’s famous core,
Or else at somewhere slightly more
Peripheral, to north or south
(Where men, we’re told, are strange of mouth)?

A busway, then, is that the thing,
These western folk in town to bring?
Two hundred million pounds of track
To bring these people in and back?
Two hundred million on one road?
Why surely that’s the biggest load
Of nonsense we have ever heard?
The very notion is absurd.
Two hundred million just to trim
Four minutes off the trip – how dim!
When all we need to stop the pain
Is just a single inbound lane,
To take those buses, free from let,
To where the people need to get –
Or leastways o’er the bridge and right,
Into the quiet West Cambridge site,
To Lovelace, Babbage, Cavendish,
To drop or pick up, as they wish.
And thence, who knows? (That bit’s a mess,
Unfathomed yet, they must confess.
Grange Road, they say, is where to go;
Is there something we do not know?)

But that aside, there is a scheme
That ticks all boxes like a dream;
A scheme that we can all prefer,
From Cambourne West to Grantchester;
That Barton folk will clap and cheer,
And Coton’s populace won’t fear;
That riders will use willingly
From houses down in Madingley.
And youths in Boxworth and those parts,
With love and gladness in their hearts,
Will meet their mates from Comberton
On Jesus Green, or further on.
And if we have a Park & Ride,
Not eastwards but the other side
(Now here’s a place: it’s Scotland Farm,
A lovely site that does no harm),
Then motorists from miles about
Would use the bus, without a doubt.
From Eversdens they’d surely flock,
And hardy folk of Elsworth stock;
Dry Drayton men and all that lot
From Bourn Airfield and Caldecote.
So put the bus on roads we know:
The 428 where all lanes flow,
St Neots Road would also do;
Since cars and lorries there are few;
And past the Mulch’s roundabout
(With bus priority, we shout),
And down the hill on bus lane new,
The bus can fly past static queue,
And o’er the bridge to roadway wide,
And right to Lovelace gently glide.

All for one quarter, at the most,
Of what a busway track would cost.
With such a link as this we can
Requite the famous Local Plan;
Inspectors will be just as keen
On eighteen minutes as fourteen.
And lo the belt of green is saved,
Fair Coton’s meads are grass, not paved,
And sunset’s still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley,
And old bull can remain a bull
(This transport link’s sustainable).
Yea, here there’s beauty yet indeed,
And Ponos’ workforce will not need
To jump in cars at ten to three
In order to get home for tea.