Wednesday 23 October 2013

£91 Million Beautiful Busway? Worth it? [5]

By way of conclusion ...

Lunch was taken at Morrison's Houghton Regis.
Chips, peas, potato pea and gravy casserole with occasional lamb mince scraps, mug of tea and eccles cake (more cake than eccle) for about £6. Not quite gourmet fayre but adequate. Christmas had arrived at the store (on Saturday 5th October) ...
... complete with mince pies on special offer!
After luncheon was complete, fbb joined a Busway service "E" which (a) does not serve Dunstable and (b) does not run to the Interchange.
That's the service whose timetable, uniquely, was on display at the Interchange! The route leaves the busway at its end, eschews roads leading to the station area and stops at the Galaxy Centre.
For those unfamiliar with the delights of central Luton, there is a vast shopping "mall" which used to be an Arndale Centre and is now, prosaically,"The Mall".
Assorted bus services terminate at three different locations round the outside of this shoppers' delight. fbb could find no list, map or diagram of what stops where in hard copy or on-line.

Information on where you can catch your bus in Luton.
The public transport guide is available to download below.

Only it wasn't and still isn't. There is nothing to download!

Many years ago when fbb's No 3 was seeking a place to further his education, father and son went together to Luton. While son was at interview and deciding to reject that historic home of straw hats, fbb wandered round the town and, purely by chance found the Central Library.
Here he found the sum total of Luton's public transport information, a carousel with an incomplete set of leaflets.

15 years later the carousel was still there and in the days following the opening of the busway (photo sent by a correspondent) was even more incomplete than at fbb's first visit.
There was nothing at all about the busway! Things were a little better for fbb this time; there were busway timetable booklets, but the authorities were less than keen to see them distributed.
Rebel as ever, fbb took two and hurried out furtively lest he be accosted by the fierce-looking lady at the desk. Oh yes, don't go into the Tourist Information Office (part of the Library) for this bit of information for tourists because it isn't there; it's "round the corner" in the reception area.

Now, where's the station and/or the new "interchange"? Bravely fbb set off into "The Mall" hopeful of a sign; and, yippee, at the main mall crossroads, high and indistinctly in the air it said "to buses and trains". Out into a decidedly dreary back street with bus stops to the left ...
... and to the right ...
... but no trains and no interchange and no further signs to either! Retrospective investigation revealed that this was the Silver Street terminal. But there were clues to the station location for persons of astounding perspicacity like fbb.
There was a pub called "The Engine" and, a little further on ...
... another pub called "The Great Northern". And, as any visitor to Luton is expected to know, the former Great Northern Station was called Luton Bute Street and, happily, this Great Northern hostelry was accompanied by a street name-plate for the self-same Bute Street.
So we are nearly there; all we have to do is to spot the present Luton Station and bingo; fbb can catch his train home. Today's competition, then, is to spot the entrance to Luton Station!
fbb is ready to help by reminding our super-intelligent readers of the long, long footbridge that once spanned two stations and station road.
click on the picture to enlarge

The footpath on the left of the coloured picture above is (roughly) where the original footbridge started. And we all know that, don't we? So we don't need any signs, do we?

The sad fact, returning to the heading of this series of blogs, is that the busway (and its associated interchange) is a splendid piece of transport infrastructure which is not well publicised, difficult to find from the town centre ...

... and not well used as yet. fbb was profoundly wrong when he doubted the wisdom of the Cambridge busway; but here, in Luton...? 91 million pounds?

We must wait and see.

 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 24th October 


  1. Not sure about the not well used, I know two of the three operators on the Busway have been pleasantly surprised by the rapid take-up for the Busway services. It may be a little quiet from some of the stops on the Busway (the traditional main road routes have been reduced but are still running on decent frequencies so it may take a while for passengers to grasp the offer of the Busway from these stops) but services B & C have seen an excellent take-up in new passengers taking advantage of fast direct buses from the estates of Dunstable to Luton Town Centre, the E is also showing positive signs helped by the fact the Busway has allowed the operator to double the frequency with the same number of buses which pretty much means any growth is a positive effect (don't know how Arriva are doing as I don't have the contacts).

    Not sure about the difficult to find from the Town Centre, if you are a stranger coming in to town surely you would have arrived at the Station in the first place and if you get to the Silver Street exit of The Mall (following the clear signposts elsewhere in the Town Centre) it is a very recognisable straight walk from there to the station that you would have followed to get into town in the first place, if you are in any way local you know where the station is anyway (I suspect that if they remove the builders hoardings you may even be able to see the station from Silver Street ahead of you, I was so used to the walk as I used to live in Luton near the station I set off without really looking and only noticed the change when I got to where the footbridge entrance used to be and found it wasn't!).

    Publicity wasn't great, it all got a little rushed at the end with dates being moved forward which meant only one organisation had their publicity ready in time for the launch (and even then only just) but they have had such takeup in leaflets they have had to do a re-print within a month of launch. It has started well but their is room for a improvement (which indicates that there is room for better to come in passenger numbers as well), particularly on the publicity - correct timetable information was up in the shelters by Saturday (19th) at least, better late than never I suppose, though does have the limitations of a local authority relying on base data with no modifications which meant that the circular registered services were shown with destinations as the end point rather than the mid-point of the circle as would be more useful, the B, C & non-busway 10 were all noted showing Luton Town Centre as their destination on the outbound journeys from Luton Town Centre.

  2. Thank you for these comments. The key to finding station and busway is that Dwarfer1979 had previous expereince. I caught a bus into the town centre from afar having left from the interchange and the route between there and the town had no signposts and was not obvious; of course it is easy when you know! The provision of a map of all departure points displayed at EVERY town centre stop is an obvious and simple solution. This was needed even before the busway appeared.