The Luton Dunstable busway
The busway opened on Wednesday 25th September.
Timetables and fares for the new services using the busway can be found within below:
Busway timetable and fare information (PDF 2.2MB)
The Luton Dunstable busway will be a fast, frequent and reliable high-quality service linking Houghton Regis, Dunstable and Luton. The majority of the busway network will be a special guideway between Blackburn Road, on the edge of Houghton Regis, through Dunstable and into Luton town centre.
The service will be provided by specially adapted buses capable of running both on their own track and on the public roads. It will serve a large number of destinations in the area, connecting the main housing areas within the main industrial areas, the three town centres, the main line rail stations in Luton and Luton airport.
Much of this will run along the line of the disused railway that runs parallel to the A505 (Dunstable Road) and A5065 (Hatters Way). This route bypasses the traffic congestion in the town centres and along the A505.
While the busway services will serve local on street bus stops there are new high profile stops on the busway at:
• Portland Ride (Dog Kennel Downs)
• White Lion Retail Park (College Drive)
• Tolland Close (off Stanton Rd close to the L&D hospital)
• Maple Road (close to LTFC)
• Luton’s new bus station adjacent to the town centre rail station
As well as enjoying a fast, frequent and reliable service, travellers will be kept informed by state-of-the art passenger information systems that display real time information for passengers waiting at all stops, whether on the guideway or on the road.
The busway provides the bus operators with a dedicated bus only system for trips between Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, it operates in both directions with a journey time of approximately 12 minutes (allowing for stops on the busway) between Blackburn Road in Houghton Regis and Luton interchange.
While the scheme is now substantially complete there will be a period of driver training before opening of the busway towards the end of September 2013.
Running alongside the busway between Blackburn Road in Houghton Regis and the M1 Bridge there is a multi purpose track for emergency service vehicles, maintenance vehicles and serving as a shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians. This passes Dog Kennel Downs in Houghton Regis and Blows Down in Dunstable providing a very attractive leisure route. There is also a link between Dog Kennel Downs and the A5. From the M1 Bridge the shared use path extends on into Luton Town Centre.
While the busway will be officially opened late September the shared use path will be officially opened on 15 September.
For more information about the Luton Dunstable Busway (including routes, times and prices) visit www.busway.net.
The busway will provide a major boost to the local economy, reduce congestion, ensure journeys are quicker and more reliable, as well as improving the health of locals and enabling them to do their bit for the environment.
1) Tackling congestion – speed and reliability
Currently about 43,000 vehicles travel along the A505 and other routes between Houghton Regis, Dunstable and Luton each day. The busway will enable bus operators to plan their routes to take advantage of the new system and avoid or minimise delays. For certain trips these new services will offer residents a faster and possibly cheaper alternative to travelling by car helping to ease congestion for those with no other option.
Currently, the average speed of a conventional bus over the 6 mile journey from Dunstable town centre to Luton train station is less than 13 miles an hour; the journey can take more than 1 hour during peak periods. The busway will do the same journey on its dedicated guideway in less than 15 minutes, including three scheduled stops.
While the busway provides a dedicated route for buses away from the congested road network, priority will also be given to late running buses on the normal road network where practicable to do so via bus lanes and timing at traffic signals to assist with reliability of the bus services.
Recent journey time test runs along the busway have confirmed that the predicted journey times shown below can be met or bettered:
- Luton Station and Dunstable Town Centre - 11 minutes
- Dunstable and London Luton Airport - 19 minutes
- Luton Town Centre and London Luton Airport - 9 minutes
- Houghton Regis and Luton Station - 25 minutes
These new routes and timetable are being discussed with the operators now ready for new services to operate from late September, further details of these will be made public and widely circulated well in advance of opening the busway.
2) Boost to the local economy
The busway will be a major economic driver for the region. It will improve transport connections to existing and proposed key employment sites.
It is hoped that these busway will open up opportunities for improved access to jobs and further education/training and therefore is expected to contribute to higher standards of living and quality of life.
Businesses are already seeing the benefits of the scheme, with development flourishing along the busway. And, as part of an integrated public transport system, travel for work or leisure to areas off the main route will be easier too, assisting regeneration.
3) Health and environmental impact
Leaving the car at home and catching a busway service would be a much healthier choice because road traffic is a key generator of pollution, accounting for 15 per cent of the UK's Carbon Dioxide emissions, as well as large amounts of unhealthy particles (mainly in the form of soot).
This exposes us all to immense amounts of unwanted pollution which affects our health. Those most at risk are people living or walking beside congested roads and especially those in cars.
For car drivers and passengers, the pollution is greatest since ventilation systems draw polluted air into the car. Catching a bus will cut the overall level of pollution and even a short walk to the stop will be useful exercise you might not otherwise get.
The real healthy option for those travelling between the Dunstable and Luton would be to use the shared use path.
4) Staying connected
It is intended that the busway services will also participate in First Capital Connect’s plusbus scheme which allows people with tickets to London and other destinations to travel on bus services to the rail station.
Construction work is now substantially complete and the busway is being tested ready for use in late September. We are in the process training the bus drivers to use the system and in discussions with the bus operators on finalising their new routes, setting time tables and service levels.
The busway is 13.4km long including 7.4km of guided track, 2.4km unguided and 3.6km on highway (including sections of bus lanes) running between Houghton Regis, Dunstable, Luton and London Luton Airport. It will be the second longest busway in the world (and the longest urban busway). Cambridge is currently the longest - but mainly rural - and the Adelaide O-Bahn Busway in Adelaide, South Australia is the third longest.
Cycle lanes are included along the main busway between Blackburn Road in Houghton Regis and the M1 bridge, then extending on into Luton. High profile stops with real time passenger information will be on the main busway and at key locations in the town centres and Luton Dunstable Hospital.
As part of the scheme approximately 250 new and existing bus stops throughout the conurbation will be improved to provide level boarding and real time passenger information.
Why a busway and not a railway?
There was a public inquiry back in 2005 that went into detail on this. The case was made and supported by the inspector that using buses provided the most flexible and cost effective solution.
How fast will it be?
The busway is able to travel at speeds of 50mph on unrestricted sections reducing , to 30mph by bus stops and crossing points
How much will it cost to travel on the busway?
While the busway will be owned and maintained by the local authorities the services will be provided by the bus operators at the going rate. We are working with the bus operators on routes and timetables at the moment to ensure these are not at a premium cost. We anticipate it will cost the same as most similar bus routes.
What will the busway look like?
The guideway comprises a twin track about 6 metres wide allowing buses to travel in each direction in a narrow corridor. Each track includes a 180mm high kerb on each side which that a guidewheels run along
Will it be noisy?
The guideway itself is not expected to be noisy, the design process has taken into account the expected noise from the buses and their guide wheels and where appropriate noise fencing has been provided to shield local residents. Noise monitoring surveys have been undertaken and will be repeated once operational to ensure the noise fencing is functioning as designed. Additionally a substantial amount of landscaping has been provided to assist with noise and visual mitigation.
What is the shared use path?
The shared use path is a track extending along the length of the busway where the public can walk or cycle, this is widest at the Houghton Regis & Dunstable end where it also serves for emergency and maintenance access.
Can the busway buses go on the road?
Yes, buses using the busway are able to run on the road, just like a conventional bus. This allows the network to reach a much greater number of potential users, without the expense and disruption of building a guideway into outlying areas, where there is little congestion.
In particular, the busway is planned to serve parts of Dunstable, Tithe Farm and Parkside in Houghton Regis. The "on road" capability also allows the busway buses to serve the town centres.
What is different about buses that used the busway?
The buses that will use the busway are identical to current buses using the road now with the exception of a small horizontal wheel known as a guide wheel fitted just ahead of their front wheels, these guide wheels protrude slightly from the edge of the bus and engage between raised kerbs of the guideway
These wheels guide the vehicle by pushing against the kerbs of the guideway. This allows them to achieve the speed and comfort of a light rail or train system, together with the road-going flexibility of a bus.
Following a successful funding bid to government in 2009, Central Bedfordshire signed up to a partnership agreement with Luton Borough Council who awarded a design and build contract to BAM Nuttall for the Luton Dunstable busway. The scheme offers a unique opportunity to run buses unhindered through one of the most congested areas of the Luton and Dunstable conurbation.
It is a jointly promoted project with 90 per cent funding from the Department of Transport, the remaining 10 per cent, while underwritten by the councils, is expected to come from local contributions such as developers.
Once the busway is up and running we will, together with the bus operators carefully monitor the system to see if it provides the benefits expected.
An extension of the scheme into the growth area north of Houghton Regis is expected to follow but using sections of dedicated roads rather than a guideway. Other areas being considered include the growth area north of Luton with longer term consideration being given to a link to Leighton Buzzard.
The proposed order is being jointly promoted by Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council. The purpose of this order is to introduce restrictions on the busway and associated access routes.
In order to maintain a fast, frequent and reliable service for buses operating on the busway it is necessary to ensure that unauthorised vehicles do not use the system. Restrictions will be in place at all junctions where the public highway and the busway meet and other access points.
Please view the documents and accompanying drawing below for more details.
Public notice (PDF 42KB)
Statement of reasons (PDF 15KB)
Traffic regulation order (PDF 23KB)
Traffic regulation order schedule (PDF 41KB)
Plan A - Busway route and stops (PDF 2.4MB)
Plan B - Location of the bus interchange in Luton (PDF 714KB)
Plan C - Schedule plan (PDF 2.4MB)
Objections or representations should be sent in writing to Keith Dove, Luton Borough Council, Town Hall, George Street, Luton LU1 2BQ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org stating the grounds on which they are made by 9 September 2013.
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