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Luton Dunstable Busway

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Work has started on the Luton to Dunstable Guided Busway, despite Government support for the project being under review.

In pictures: Luton to Dunstable Guided Busway

BBC website,Tuesday 1 June 2010


News from Central Bedfordshire Council

Central Bedfordshire Council welcomes South Beds Friends of the Earth support for the Luton Dunstable Busway 

Central Bedfordshire Council is welcoming South Beds Friends of the Earth's support for the Luton Dunstable Busway, following successful Government funding approval on Tuesday, 9 March


Councillor Tom Nicols, Central Bedfordshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Development, said: "Local support is crucial to making this project a success and we must work with local groups and businesses to get the best out of this new transport facility . We hope with South Beds Friends of the Earth’s support this will encourage other local organisations to see the benefits of this much needed transport link and work with us to ultimately get the most out of those local communities affected by the Busway.  

"There will be a package of measures as part of the scheme which South Beds Friends of the Earth are in great support of, including our investment in cycling improvements in Dunstable as we seek to build a cycle way along the whole route of the busway and look to improve access to Luton Dunstable Hospital for walkers and cyclists."

Central Bedfordshire Council is not only aiming to improve access to the Hospital for walkers and cyclists but will work with local organisations such as Luton and Dunstable hospital, to encourage more people to walk and cycle to the Hospital as part of the council's healthier lifestyles promotion.

Work will also begin soon with the Luton and Dunstable Cycle Forum and Dunstable Friends of the Earth, to identify schemes to be delivered this year.    

Cllr Nicols, added: " Providing up to date and relevant travel information for users is crucial so we are looking to invest in public transport information in Dunstable and Houghton Regis and will be exploring the possibility of introducing real time passenger information into the area.  We are also committed to work closely with local businesses to promote shop information and market dates on the busway route, as part of our continued support to help local businesses through this national recession."

Sustainable transport and long term transport solutions are top priorities for Central Bedfordshire Council so we will be looking at more ways to promote sustainable modes of transport in new local developments . Work with our neighbouring authorities, including Milton Keynes, Bedford, Luton, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire,  will be critical as we begin to develop our Local Transport Plan. 

The Luton Dunstable Busway will provide both sustainable and environmental benefits for residents in Dunstable and Houghton Regis, and we are working closely with Luton Borough Council to maximise these opportunities for the future.   

The Busway will provide Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis residents with a fast, frequent and reliable high-quality service between the three towns.  As the second longest Busway in the world, this new transport link will help combat heavy congestion in and around Luton and Dunstable, and help join up residential, employment and development areas, to help boost the local economy.

Environmentally there should be significant benefits of the scheme.  All new buses will produce lower emissions, which will overall help to improve the local air quality.

Now that the Department for Transport has agreed fundingthe project is moving forward and the Busway is scheduled to open in 2012.  


Central Bedfordshire Council has agreed that the busway is part of package of measures to improve cycling and buses especially  information and access:

  • The guided busway will include a cycle track along its whole length, creating a safe and easy route between Dunstable and  Luton

  • As well as this Central Bedfordshire is aiming to introduce funding for cycling schemes

  • Cycling improvements: Further funds have been set aside for  cycling improvements to be carried out in the coming year.

  • Strategic cycle network: Central Bedfordshire Council will work with Luton and Dunstable Cycle Forum and Dunstable Friends of the Earth to identify schemes to be delivered this year within the context of the strategic cycle network.

  • Hospital Access: Central Bedfordshire has committed to work with the Luton and Dunstable hospital to explore ways to improve ways of joint working, including helping the hospital to develop their own travel plan. 

  • Public Transport  Information and provision: Central Bedfordshire Council will spend up to £200,000 to greatly improve public transport information provision for Dunstable and Houghton Regis area  and the council is also exploring the possibility of introducing real time passenger information into the area and will look to roll this out as and when opportunity arises.

  • Work will also be carried out to combine the budget for transport for that is used by health, social services and education to provide transport more efficiently for these areas and also to support increased public transport. 

  • Central Bedfordshire Council will make sure that new developments will provide sustainable transport alternatives whilst working with neighbouring authorities to develop a transport strategy, including Milton Keynes, Bedford, Luton, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire. The aim will be to promote sustainable transport alternatives. This joint working will form a key part of the Local Transport Plan.

  • Central Bedfordshire has just appointed a dedicated travel plan officer who will help businesses and new developments to promote cycling, buses and walking

  • Promoting shops: The stations on the Luton and Dunstable Busway will promote local businesses and shops in Dunstable.  Central Bedfordshire will  work with Dunstable town council and the Chamber of Commerce to actively promote the shops and the market in Dunstable.


Translink bus stop -  image from needs transport improvements now

Victoria Harvey, Coordinator SBFoE



Central Bedfordshire Council have gained the support of South Beds Friends of the Earth for the Luton-Dunstable Busway as part of a package of transport improvements in Dunstable for bus information, and cycling and access to the hospital.

The transport problems in Dunstable are seriously affecting business, shops and employment (1) The shortage of safe cycling routes and of bus information, let alone buses in some areas, means that many people do not have an alternative to using the car within Dunstable , and those without cars  can suffer severe problems especially young people wishing to access skills training. There are also serious issues with parking at the hospital.

South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth have historically opposed the guided busway as, like Luton Friends of the Earth, as they believe that a light rail or tram solution would be far more effective. However, they are aware that plans for this railway do not exist in any of the forward plans for the railways for the next twenty years. (2)

In light of this and in light of the urgency of climate change South Beds FoE have come to the decision that it is crucial to work with Central Bedfordshire to gain improvements now to public transport and cycling rather than wait for something in the future even if it is not the solution that they have campaigned for.

The transport situation in Dunstable is urgent, and we need improvements now. Shops are closing down, congestion is getting worse, many people are very isolated due to lack of public transport, Young people have difficulty accessing skills training. I am worried that we could wait years for a railway, so following discussions with our new Central Bedfordshire Council, we will support the Busway as part of a package of measures to improve transport in the town.

We need to make it easy and attractive to travel within Dunstable and Luton by cycling and by bus, yet there is not a direct and safe cycle route to Luton and at many bus stops there is not even basic information. Many people have serious problems accessing the hospital due to lack of good bus services or available car parking. Central Bedfordshire have committed to bus and cycling improvements this year and the Busway will provide the opportunity for a whole network of buses from Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis, and north of Luton and Dunstable to join the Busway and have a direct congestion free route into Luton and to Luton railway station and will seriously reduce journey times.

It will increase access to Central Bedfordshire College which is really important for young people. Therefore we support this scheme and are very keen to work with Central Bedfordshire to maximise its benefit for the whole urban area.

We also fear that if the Luton Dunstable Busway does not go ahead we might loose the route corridor and it might be built on.

We believe the commitment from Central Bedfordshire and as the Council's Head of Transport Strategy, Paul Cook has an excellent track record from Cambridge in improving bus services and Cllr Tom Nicols has stressed his support for a first class public transport system for the area and has committed to actions to improve bus information and cycling this year.

Following discussions between Central Bedfordshire Council, and South Beds Friends of the Earth, Central Bedfordshire will commit to:

  • Cycling improvements

  • A cycle route alongside the Busway

  • £302,000 for cycling will be spent in the Dunstable area for schemes including:

  • Toucan crossing - Poynters Road, linking Woodside Industrial estate with Sandringham Drive.

  • Shared use path - link from Boscombe Road to old railway line.

  • Boscombe Road, cycling links including crossing of Boscombe.

  • Cycle link to Royce Close from Tring Road

A further sum of money in excess of £400,000 has been set aside for further cycling improvements to be carried out in the coming year. This is for the all of Central Bedfordshire and represents an increase on spending from last year (at a time when budgets are being cut). We will work with Luton and Dunstable Cycle Forum and Dunstable Friends of the Earth, to identify schemes to be delivered this year within the context of the strategic cycle network.


Bus information

Central Bedfordshire Council will greatly improve public transport information provision in the Dunstable and Houghton Regis area and will identify LTP funding up to £200,000 to fund this.

They are also exploring the possibility of introducing real time passenger information into the area and will look to roll this out as and when opportunity arises.

Central Bedfordshire Council is looking at ways to improve the efficiency of how they deliver bus services so that they can deliver more bus services at no extra cost to the tax payer.



The council is talking to the hospital to find ways of improving access to the hospital by bus and cycling. This also means that there will be more car parking spaces available for those who do not have an attractive alternative to car use.



Central Bedfordshire Council has committed to promote the shops and market in Dunstable by putting up display boards with information and promotion on the market and local shops. 


Alternatives to Luton Northern Bypass

Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough Council have committed to actively pursuing funding for the improvements to public transport and cycling in the area recommended by the work on a sustainable low carbon alternative to the Luton Northern bypass.

South Beds FoE is keen to work with Central Bedfordshire Council to support the Luton Dunstable Busway and to make sure that the maximum benefits are gained for all of the conurbation. South Beds FoE believe that it can form the basis to a first class integrated bus network that provides a realistic and attractive alternative to car use and transforms the lives of those without a car. It will help young people access Central Bedfordshire College. Buses from Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis can join the Busway for a swift and direct route into Luton and Luton railway station. The journey time between Luton and Dunstable will be halved. There will also be a cycle track alongside the route which will make a real difference to cyclists travelling between Luton and Dunstable.



1. The Dunstable Northern Bypass will remove through traffic but will not deal with internal traffic in Dunstable. A new report from the Highways Agency has shown that road building often does not reduce traffic as expected.

This means that even with the bypass there could be considerable congestion unless, real alternatives to car use are provided.  

2. The Western section of East West rail between Bletchley and Bicester, which would link Bedford to Oxford with a spur to Aylesbury, has been in all the rail plans and regional plans for many years and is supported by all the councils, and has an existing track bed, and yet there is no hope if it being built until 2017 at the earliest.




Friends of the Earth