Positive Welcome For Busway

Bus passengers have voted with their feet and offered a warm welcome to the Luton Dunstable Busway, Luton Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils said today as the first patronage figures were announced.

The Councils have estimated more than 120,000 passenger journeys were made from 1-31 October, the first full calendar month of operation since the busway opened on 25 September.

Detailed patronage data is confidential information to the individual busway operators, nonetheless, these early figures are based on passenger numbers from two and an estimate from the third.

 “I am absolutely delighted with this indication of the busway’s strong performance during its first month of operation,” said Cllr Dave Taylor, Luton Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for transportation.

“The figures are very encouraging and, if current patronage levels can be sustained, it is estimated around  1.5million passenger journeys could be made on the busway during its first year of operation. That would make an exceptional contribution towards the councils’ overall aspiration of delivering around two million extra passenger journeys on all bus services across Luton and Dunstable over the next three years.”

Arriva, Centrebus and Grant Palmer are operating four initial busway routes that together provide core services between Luton and Dunstable up to every eight minutes at peak times, travelling on the guideway at up to 50mph and linking the two town centres in just 15 minutes.

Together with the priority buses receive at junctions, the separation of buses and normal traffic ensures services can bypass congestion ‘hotspots’ and deliver the shortest possible journeys times.

The busway and new Luton Station Interchange were officially opened on 24 September by then Transport Minister Norman Baker.

Early figures suggest Arriva’s A service is the best supported route by passengers, linking Parkside in Houghton Regis with London Luton Airport via Dunstable and Luton Station Interchange in around 25 minutes.
Two routes operated by Centrebus, the B service from Downside estate in Dunstable to Luton Station Interchange, and the E service from Toddington Green to Luton Galaxy Centre via Dunstable, and Grant Palmer’s C service from Beecroft estate in Dunstable to Luton Station Interchange, are also proving popular.  

Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Good as they are, these early passenger numbers tell just part of the story. Even before the busway opened  Prologis UK were citing it as one of the reasons to start the UK’s first speculative development since 2008 in Dunstable. When built, that will be around another 500 plus jobs for the area, which is a really tangible benefit of the busway. We are pleased to see that other businesses on the Woodside estate are expanding too and the busway is an excellent way for staff to get to work there. 

“It also provides a quick link to the new Incuba centre in Brewers Hill where there is a focus on smaller enterprise and start-up businesses, so the busway really is having an impact on businesses of all shapes and sizes.
“And of course, it’s slashing journey times which is the real benefit – it now takes less than an hour to St Pancras from Dunstable, which makes commuting a breeze.”

Linsey Frostick, regional marketing manager for Arriva, said drivers have been receiving overwhelmingly positive comments from passengers.
“Customers are commenting on the good and frequent service being provided and cleanliness and punctuality of the buses as well as the value for money and the connection with London Luton Airport.”

The number of passengers boarding local Arriva services year-on-year increased by six per cent in October in Luton town centre, and by nine per cent in each of Dunstable and Houghton Regis. 

Cllr Taylor added: “Surveys conducted for the councils point to enormous customer satisfaction with the speed and reliability of busway services. Words used to describe the experience have included ‘fantastic’ and even ‘miraculous’, and a number of passengers have told us that while they were sceptical before opening they are now absolutely convinced of the busway’s merits.

“Positive comments are also being received about the track for cyclists and pedestrians. The early evidence suggests that both the busway and the shared-use pathway are already helping support an increasing number of journeys undertaken by sustainable transport means instead of by car.” 


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