Monday 20 May 2013

Luton Airport - The Sequel

Three competing coach services now run from London to Luton Airport:-
Cramped minibus from Baker Street
 National Expess  
High end luxury from Victoria Coach Station
 Arriva   Green Line  
Possibly slightly less luxury from Buckingham Palace Road  with an extra change in the Carparkz car parks.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that a fourth choice is available, namely the bus link from Luton Airport Parkway station to the terminal.
This route, operated by First Northampton (!), runs every 10 minutes seven days a week and for long hours.

When first introduced, the transfer was free but now ...

Rail passengers are able to purchase through tickets to London Luton Airport. Those passengers arriving at Luton Airport Parkway station without a through ticket to the Airport and who wish to use the shuttle bus will pay an Excess Charge of £1.60 each way if they arrive at the station by train.

But don't believe everything you read on-line ...
A constant free shuttle bus service operates to and from Luton Airport Parkway Station. This is normally just a 5 minute trip to Luton airport terminal building.

But there's more to confuse and bewilder the unwary traveller..

Checking on this service on Traveline under "Luton Aiport Parkway", reveals another oddity. As well as First's shuttle route 888, a number not used anywhere else in the bus travel universe, (and try finding the timetable on n First's web site!!!) there is an Arriva route "A" starting on 30th June. Of course, Traveline gets it wrong (no rurprise there, then); route "A" does not serve the Parkway, it runs from the traditional Luton town centre railway station.
This 15 minute daily frequency appears to be in addition to various (mainly Arriva) "normal" local bus routes which serve the terminal buildings.

The 61 is infrequent and its link from central Luton to the Airport finishes on 29th June. Arriva 100 is part of a group of routes operating between Luton and Stevenage with Airport buses calling every hour.

Between Watford and Luton, the 321 runs every 15 minutes with journeys every 30 extended to the Airport.

Stagecoach 99 (branded for Virgin) runs hourly, targetting long distance train passengers interchanging at Milton Keynes Central station..

New service "A" is, quite clearly, in direct response to the Airport's recent "coach exclusive" shenanigans. See "Nah, Luton Airport!" (read again). None of the other services matches the frequency of the late June upstart newcomer and only the 99 serves the railway station as such.

So, as is aways true in competitive spats like this, there will be tears before bedtime and someone will give way. 10 buses an hour from train to airport is excessive, as is up to 18 coaches an hour from London. No-one will be making any money; and no-one wants to be the first to give way.

Watch this space, as they say, for further developments.

Meanwhile in a continuance of fbb nostalgia ...

The chubby and elderly one has only ever visited Luton Airport once. It is not a particularly picturesque place to potter to. It was in 1997 (probably) and he was taking a short exploratory trip whilst No 3 son was being interviewed at Luton college. 

A Luton and Dunstable (Arriva-to-be) H31 (231 to be, see above) was his chosen steed ...
... and Airtours was grazing outside the decidedly unsalubrious Luton Station ...
... whilst a Stelios machine was leaving the terminal with a load of happy returning holiday makers.

Perhaps it's time for a return visit?
Maybe not!
and that, erm,  thing?
Hung on cables over the centre of a cross-roads, it's another verison of a set of traffic lights. The white pointer circles continuously clockwise and points, successively, at red (stop) or green (go) border segments. The pointers and segments are designed so that there is a brief period when all directions are at red. Father had no idea what it was so was in the process of ignoring it when the teenage pre-fbb hurriedly advised otherwise.

He had read a description in an edition of "Meccano Magazine". Father thus stopped at red and so avoided a serious, expensive, and probably litigious confrontation.

As to location, fbb's usual agile mind (?) is a blank. It was on a drive from a channel port to Innsbruck; so possibly a town in Germany.
 Next Bus Blog : Tuesday 21st May 


  1. Firstly congratulations are surely due to the Traveline Southeast computer programs for recognising "Luton Aurport Parkway" (sic) as the location in the enquiry above.

    Secondly the 99 lost the Virgin connection some years ago, although certain sources continue to refer to it as VT99. Stagecoach's own publicity - and the standard-liveried coaches - use just 99.

    Finally, it is worth noting that the Airparkz shuttle bus doesn't serve the main bus station at the airport, but what could charitably be described as an annexe around 150m further away.

  2. Cheers M of K; you first comment is duly noted. Can I offer the defense of being less that a fortnight away from moving house? Or is it just old age, yet again.

    On a more serious note, it can be frustrating when Traveline or similar cannot cope with minor speling bludners. At leat Google asks you, "did you mean...?"

    Thanks for the other two pieces of update. I have suggested a visit to Luton by my Northampton correspondent.

  3. As others have said, the Stagecoach 99 is just a Stagecoach service these days. I am slightly surprised it hasn't joined the "Cross County X" series as perhaps an X9 (there isn't one in the area).

    It's also curious on two other grounds.

    One is that as an airport service, it needs to be punctual, and is often hit by motorway delays - so at the MK end has something like 59 minutes of layover - unusually high! This means that sometimes you see two of them at MK station at once.

    The other one is that despite being a station to airport service, it kind-of isn't. Almost nobody uses it from MK Central station to MK shopping centre. Almost nobody uses it between Luton and Luton Airport. Its main business seems to be for Lutonians going shopping to MK, and for those who work at the Kingston Centre and the large surrounding industrial estates and live in Luton.

    The latter is particularly interesting, as it only stops at Kingston (not even the proper stop, an isolated one at the back) and the first stop off the M1 so that it is a local bus service and thus attracts BSOG. So, stops that the operator was pressured to insert for financial (not passenger convenience) reasons are actually very heavily used.


  4. "Airparkz shuttle bus"

    By the way there are two off site car parks at Luton.

    Airparks is based in the village of Slip End a few miles from the airport. This isn't the one used by Arriva.

    Airport Car Parkz is just down the road (if you take the back road out from the airport industrial area, pass a garage and it's just before you reach the Vauxhall plant). This is the one they are using.


  5. Actually, according to the information I have seen the A will be replacing the 321 as well as the 61, the 321 terminate in Luton Town Centre and will no longer continue to the airport whilst the 61 has been diverted to Wigmore Lane Asda.

    Plus this issue is still to be resolved as Arriva are challenging the decision to exclude the 757 from the airport whilst continuing to allow other operators such as Easybus to continue competing with the new NatEx service.

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