Comparisons with a bus-way in Cambridge that is facing spiralling costs and lengthy delays has triggered a review by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive into a proposed scheme between Leigh, Salford and Manchester.
A report by Cllr Richard Knowles, a member of Oldham Council and a Salford University transport professor, was presented to GMPTE last week following a visit to Cambridge. Knowles said Cambridgeshire's bus-way was "ten years from conception and still not open…substantially over-budget" and would rely "heavily on massive new park and ride provision, the development of Northstowe eco town with 25,000 population and extensive demand management in Cambridge city centre." The 25-mile bus-way from Huntingdon to Cambridge has seen costs rise from £54m to £116m and speculation locally suggests it could hit £160m by the time it opens next spring.
The Leigh-Salford-Manchester project would partly involve a new bus lane along the A580 East Lancs Road as well as specially-adapted buses using concrete tracks on a disused railway line.
David Leather, GMPTE's chief executive, said this week: "The Leigh-Salford-Manchester Busway scheme has been identified as a priority by both Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities through the Greater Manchester Transport Fund investment programme and work on the project is underway.
"Following a member's visit to the Cambridgeshire guided busway, members of GMITA have requested GMPTE to review the costs and forecast demand for the Leigh-Salford-Manchester Busway and this will be presented to the Authority in due course.
"In the meantime, work to develop the busway to the schedule agreed with GMITA and AGMA will continue."