Passenger uptake on Luton and Dunstable Busway stagnates at less than half the expected level

L14-054 New Busway signage, New Bedford road entrance, Luton'Connie Primmer'JR 3'17.1.14 ENGPNL00120140117160047

L14-054 New Busway signage, New Bedford road entrance, Luton'Connie Primmer'JR 3'17.1.14 ENGPNL00120140117160047

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Passenger patronage on the £91m Luton and Dunstable Busway remains less than half of what was originally expected, Luton News can reveal.

Figures from the busway’s second and third quarters of operation, published yesterday, show that 338,810 journeys were made from January 1 to March 31 and 351,625 journeys were made from April 1 to June 30.

A 2008 business case for the project suggested that 828,000 journeys would be made each quarter (9,000 a day), meaning that for the first six months of 2014 passenger numbers were just 41.6% of what was predicted.

Passenger figures from the first quarter of the busway’s operation, from October 1 to December 31, were also 41% of what was originally expected by the council.

The busway was opened a year ago on Thursday and was lauded as a way to ease congestion while boosting the amount of residents using public transport.

In an online poll run by the Luton News/Dunstable Gazette this week, readers overwhelmingly agreed that over the last year the busway has not provided value for money.

At the time of writing just 97 respondents (17%) said that the scheme was money well spent, while 461 (83%) disagreed.

Luton Borough Council’s portfolio holder for environment, Cllr Dave Taylor, said he was ‘delighted’ with the busway’s “encouraging strong performance”.

He added: “The popularity of the busway is undoubtedly the biggest single reason why we have seen the total number of passengers boarding buses grow by around six per cent in central Luton and nine per cent in Dunstable and Houghton Regis town centres this year.

“The evidence is that both the busway and its shared-use path are also delivering significant modal shift by supporting an increasing number of journeys undertaken by sustainable transport instead of by car.”

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