A DELEGATION from Wigan travelled down to Cambridge to see an example of the borough’s next major transport project in action.
The group, including councillors and community activists, went on a fact-finding mission to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway before construction starts on a similar network in Leigh.
The Leigh busway will run along a seven-kilometre section of guided track along a former railway line linking the town to Tyldesley and Ellenbrook, before joining the East Lancs Road to run into Manchester city centre.
To speed up journeys even further, the section on the roads will have priority junctions for buses and include the creation of additional bus lanes.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) hope the busway will cut journey times from Leigh to Manchester to 45 minutes.
The Wigan group travelled to Cambridge to experience the busway which opened in 2011 and links the city centre to the market towns of Huntingdon and St Ives.
Coun Susan Loudon for Atherleigh ward said: “I was really pleased to have the opportunity to look at the busway in Cambridgeshire and investigate the impact it has had in that area.
“The good news is the scheme there seems to be working really well.
“I was particularly interested in the economic affect the busway had outside the city of Cambridge.
“The scheme had successfully spread jobs and investment around the region and that should be something we look to replicate in Leigh. I was very impressed by the trip and it has made me even more excited about the opening of the busway here.”
The Cambridge system includes around 16 miles of concrete guided track, making it the longest of its type in the world, and saw around 2.5m journeys made in its first 12 months after opening.
Construction on the £76m Leigh busway began last year with preliminary work on the guided section, which will only be open to the specially-adapted buses.
The project has generated some controversy with opponents criticising the rising costs of the project and stating their preference for Leigh to be re-connected to the railway network instead, as it is currently one of the largest towns in England without a train station.
The busway is expected to begin running next year.