Home index

Cambridgeshire Guided Buses or The Busway

It can be hard to find out about buses. This is an unofficial website with some information about the new guided buses of Cambridge UK, otherwise known as the Busway. I have tried to make it as accurate as I can, but I do not guarantee the accuracy. If you find any mistakes on it, please contact me, Jo Edkins (see bus index page)

Official website for the Busway (guided bus)
County council website about the Busway

Description of the Guided Bus

Most people in Cambridge seems to call this type of bus 'the guided bus', so I will do the same. But you must realise that the official name is The Busway, and that is how the bus stops are labelled.

These buses run partly on ordinary roads as perfectly conventional buses, without a track. The rest of the time, they run on special concrete trackways which are dedicated to their use. There are even special car-traps to stop cars going on the trackway; these are holes in the track which cars get stuck in. You have been warned! Bicycles are also forbidden to ride along the trackway itself (some idiots have tried to). However, there is a cycle/pedestrian path alongside the bus trackway which are very popular (but irrelevant for bus users, of course). The bus runs on normal rubber wheels, but it has a small guide wheel set into its side. When the bus goes from road to track, the wheel runs along the track to guide the bus. Hence the (unofficial) name.

There are two bus companies which run guided buses, Stagecoach and Whippet. This is important when you come to buy tickets or look for routes.

Tickets for the Guided Bus

I am not going to give the costs of tickets here, since these change regularly. I have given them on my main bus webpage, and if I gave them here as well, I would inevitably forget to amend both pages! This page will explain how to get tickets, and some of the ticket types. This website is unofficial, so please check the official websites for up-to-date and accurate information.

You don't need to buy normal tickets in advance to ride these buses. However, there are two ways to get tickets, and it depends which stop you use! The bus runs some of the time along its own trackway, and here it has its own bus stops, with ticket machines. For these stops you have to buy tickets from the ticket machine. However, the rest of the time it runs on ordinary roads, and uses normal bus stops and these don't have ticket machines, so you buy the ticket from the driver, as you do for normal buses in Cambridge. The bus stops will tell you if you can buy a ticket from the driver. If there is a ticket machine at the stop, you are expected to use it.

These are part of the normal bus service in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire, so normal rules and tickets apply. Concessions (such as free bus passes for older people) will work on any guided bus. The normal tickets are Dayrider and Dayrider Plus tickets, and Megariders, which also apply to other Cambridge buses, and where appropriate, you can use these tickets on both the guided bus and other buses. Very important! These normal rules include the fact that you can't use a Stagecoach ticket on a Whippet bus, or vice versa. If you go somewhere on a Stagecoach bus, you must return on a Stagecoach bus, or pay for another ticket if you want a Whippet bus. There is a ticket called a Smartcard which applies to both, but the tickets described below refer to Stagecoach only. I am describing Stagecoach buses only, since there are more of them, so a casual user will tend to want to use them. However, Whippet tickets may be cheaper. Click here for an official and complete description of the price structure for both companies.

Here is a brief explanation of the Stagecoach tickets:

Stagecoach DayriderThis allows you to travel on any Stagecoach bus in Cambridge (including the guided bus) for any number of journeys within a single day. There are single tickets which might cost less, but any return is likely to cost more, so bus users tend to regard this as a Return ticket. If you ask for a Return ticket which would cost more than this ticket, the driver will sell you one of these tickets. They allow you more than just your return journey. You probably don't want to, but you can if you want!
Stagecoach Dayrider PlusThis allows you to travel on any Stagecoach bus in Cambridgeshire (including the guided bus) for any number of journeys within a single day. If you want to travel from Cambridge to St Ives (or vice versa) then you will need one of these tickets. The Oakington stop is regarded as being in Cambridge, but no further.
Stagecoach MegariderThis allows you to travel on any Stagecoach bus in Cambridgeshire (including the guided bus) for any number of journeys for a week. It is a good deal - at current pricing structure, four return journeys in a week means that you have saved money.
Stagecoach Megarider PlusThis is the county-wide equivalent of the Megarider.
Stagecoach Family Dayrider PlusI think this only applies to the guided bus (Busway). It allows one adult and two children to travel the whole route of the guided bus for one day. I can't find any reference to children's tickets, so this is presumably the ticket to use if you want to take children on the guided bus. Even if you are travelling within Cambridge as one adult and one child, it is likely to be cheaper.

Guided Bus routes

These are just the guided bus routes between Cambridge and St Ives. Click here for other buses.

You might expect that the guided bus route would be a single route, and buses travel the length of it. Unfortunately it isn't that simple. There are two bus companies, which have their own tickets (and won't accept the other's). Stagecoach has three different routes Busway A, Busway R and Busway B. Whippet also has two routes, Busway C and Busway D. In fact, it's not as simple as this (!) as at some times of the day the bus routes vary, but I have tried to give the standard routes. And they change the routes from time to time, so please check with the timetables for accurate info.

CompanyRouteMain stops
StagecoachBusway ATrumpington park and ride, Addenbrookes hospital, rail station, city centre, Science Park, Regional College, and onto St Ives bus station
StagecoachBusway R (new)Trumpington park and ride, rail station
StagecoachBusway BCity centre, Shire Hall, Orchard Park, and onto St Ives bus station
WhippetBusway CRail station, city centre, Science Park, Regional College, and onto St Ives
WhippetBusway DCity centre, Shire Hall, Orchard Park, and onto St Ives bus station

Some of these routes extend beyond St Ives.

Click here for links to the detailed timetable, plus maps of the routes.

Some things need to be pointed out:

Route A does not run on Sundays. Other routes do, but they won't be as frequent as weekdays.

Stagecoach guided bus routes A and B each travel every 15 minutes, Whippet only once an hour.

If you start from Trumpington park and ride (which has a free car park), then you can only catch Stagecoach route A. That does (now) go to St Ives bus station. The journey the other way is the same. If you wish to return to Trumpington, get a route A from St Ives. Or get a route B, break your journey somewhere and switch to a route A.

If you want a guided bus to Addenbrookes hospital, then it must be Stagecoach route A. No other guided bus goes there. (Lots of other buses do!) This trip round the hospital also means that the route A from Trumpington takes quite a long time if you don't want to go to the hospital.

If you are starting from the railway station (or ending there), then you can get a route A (Stagecoach) or route C (Whippet). Remember the ticket nonsense.

If you are travelling from Cambridge city centre to St Ives bus station, then you're fine! All guided buses do this, and there should be frequent buses during the day, Monday to Saturday. But be careful about using Whippet unless you are planning to return on a Whippet.

For the Science Park and Regional College, use Stagecoach route A. The Stagecoach guided buses seem to overlap from the city centre to St Ives bus station, but they actually go a different route through north Cambridge.

For Shire Hall, use Stagecoach route B. This starts at Cambridge city centre, so if you are coming from the south of the city, you will have to change buses (or use a different bus, of course).

All guided buses stop at the city centre stop, between Jesus Green and New Square. Stagecoach route A and Whippet buses also stop in Parkside, next to Parkers Piece.

Trips on the Guided Bus

Here are some suggestions for things to do combined with a ride on the guided bus.

Most of the route through Cambridge is by road, and the bus looks like any other bus, so is a bit boring. What's more, route A buses are single deckers, which aren't as interesting as double deckers. So I suggest that you make sure that you are riding on the guideway for at least part of the trip. There is guideway from Trumpington park and ride carpark to the turn off to Addenbrookes hosital, and (once the bus has travelled round the hospital) it's guideway again until you get to the station. So this quite short trip will give you the guided bus experience! This is all route A, of course. The cycle and pedestrian way alongside is also an attractive route, tarmaced and flat. The route then takes to the road until you get to the edge of the city near the Science Park, so that is a bit boring (but very useful as a quick bus route through Cambridge from the south-western edge to the north-eastern edge.) At that point, the bus takes to the guided way and stays on it until it gets to St Ives park and ride carpark. Route A stops there, of course. Other buses go back on the road, go to St Ives bus station, and may carry on further to other places - see the relevant timetables. So, as a summary, if you want to go on the guideway, either take a route A south of the station, or any bus from the northern edge of Cambridge to St Ives park and ride.

If you want to do more than just ride on the bus, then here are some ideas:-

  • St Ives is a pretty town with an interesting old bridge with a chapel on it, a quayside, a parish church further up the river, old coaching inns and other buildings, and a main street which sometimes has a market in it. There are also walks along the river beyond St Ives.
  • Fen Drayton Lakes nature reserve is just before you reach St Ives. There are man-made lakes, riverside, traditional meadows and hedges, all linked by a network of paths. Click here for more information.
  • There are several important stops on the guided bus in Cambridge, such as the Science Park, Regional College, Shire Hall, the railway station, Addenbrookes hospital. Different routes stop at different places, so please check timetables.
  • If you want to look round Cambridge, I suggest that you get off the bus at the New Square stop in the centre. This is between New Square and Christs Pieces, both grassy areas. Cross Christs Pieces (the bigger area with flower beds) to get to the city centre, with shops and shopping arcades, the famous Cambridge University colleges and museums. Cross New Square to get to more shopping at Fitzroy Street and Burleigh Street and the Grafton Centre. Or for some buses, you can get off at the Parkside stop, to get to Parkers Piece (another grassy area), the swimming pool and Kelsey Kerridge Sports centre, and Mill Road, with more shops! There is a lot to see and do in Cambridge. Click here for information, maps and walks.