The £91 million Luton Dunstable Busway will officially open on Wednesday September 25.
Billed as “fast, frequent and reliable”, the busway will provide services between Luton and Dunstable as often as every seven minutes at peak times, with the journey taking 15 minutes.
Arriva, Centrebus and Grant Palmer bus companies will operate four new routes on the busway, crossing 6.1 miles of segregated bus-only road between Blackburn Road in Houghton Regis and Luton town centre.
Councillor Dave Taylor said: “After 20 years in the planning and three years in construction, it’s incredibly exciting to be announcing the opening date of the Luton Dunstable Busway.
“People in Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis have been waiting a long time for a significant improvement to the public transport network. These journey times are not only extremely fast, in some cases more than twice as quick, but also frequent and reliable, and therefore offer a high quality and real alternative to the frustrating traffic queues we all know.”
Within the 6.1 miles of bus-only road, a 4.8-mile section of concrete guideway has been built along the disused Luton-Dunstable railway corridor so that standard buses fitted with two small guide wheels can join and leave the track, and travel on it in both directions smoothly and safely at speeds of up to 50mph.
Councillor Nigel Young, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Communities at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The Luton Dunstable Busway is far more flexible than rail could ever be, and quicker and more reliable than conventional bus services, which makes it absolutely the best way to travel between Houghton Regis, Dunstable and Luton.
“The great benefits are faster journey times and improved connections for businesses, from as early as 5.30am until late on weekdays. By working together so closely, the councils and operators have delivered four great routes and ensured that the Busway will open up a wealth of opportunities for hassle-free journeys to work, college, shopping, the theatre or just catching up with friends.”
The busway is the second-longest in the world and the longest in an urban environment, and has taken three years to complete.
A major engineering project, six bridges were demolished and rebuilt and three new ones added, plus more than 4,500 concrete beams each weighing 4.8 tonnes being laid.
Information for passengers:
All bus stops have new high-quality, well-lit shelters with level boarding to make journeys easier for wheelchair users and those with puschairs.
Real-time passenger information (RTPI) displays provided at Busway stops and elsewhere show when the next buses are due to arrive.
Operators will charge the same on their Busway services as they do for the equivalent trip using current road routes.
Passengers can pay the driver when boarding, and single tickets btween Luton and Dunstable cost from £2, and returns from £3.50.
There is also a range of day and weekly tickets on offer.
A new ‘shared-use’ path runs along side the busway for cyclists and walkers, although this was criticised by cyclists who feared the ‘crushed limestone’ finish would be dangerous.
Timetables are being finalised and will be available shortly. Bus services using the Busway will be:
* Service A operated by Arriva from Parkside, Houghton Regis, to London Luton Airport via Dunstable and Luton Station Interchange, seven days a week – featuring Monday to Saturday services approximately every 15 minutes at peak times (hourly in the late evening) plus regular Sunday service.
* Service B operated by Centrebus from Downside estate to Luton Station Interchange via Dunstable, seven days a week – featuring Monday to Saturday services approximately every half an hour at peak times plus regular Sunday service.
* Service C operated by Grant Palmer from Beecroft estate to Luton Station Interchange via Dunstable, six days a week – featuring Monday to Saturday services approximately every half-hour at peak times.
* And service E operated by Centrebus from Toddington Green to Luton Galaxy Centre via Dunstable White Lion, six a days a week – featuring Monday to Friday services approximately every half-hour at peak times, plus regular Saturday service.
Via the new bus-rail interchange at Luton Station, Luton Airport Parkway and London Luton Airport there are quick and easy onward connections available to the capital, and regional, national and international destinations.