Fears over bus route changes

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A councillor has voiced concerns over changes to bus services covering Dunstable and Houghton Regis.

Arriva say they are making the alterations from August 31 “to reflect the different ways people use buses since the launch of the Busway”. But Central Beds councillor Julian Murray told the Gazette: “It may be good for business, but I am worried that it may not be good for the public.”

A combined 38 and 39 timetable will provide a service every 30 minutes between Parkside and Luton, every 15 minutes between Windsor Drive and Luton and every 30 minutes to Dunstable, with the Busway providing another four buses per hour.

There will no longer be a Route 37. Route 38 will be reduced to run every 30 minutes from Monday to Saturday and will no longer serve Parkside and Tithe Farm estates in Houghton Regis. They will be served by the Busway A service, up to every 15 minutes.

Route 39 will not serve Dunstable, apart from one school journey in the peak morning and afternoon times. There will be an improved evening and Sunday service on the Busway.

Extra buses have been added to Routes 24,25 and 26 during morning and afternoon busy times to provide a better service for those going to and from the colleges.

Councillor Murray said: “It worries me that there will be fewer buses running through the towns of Dunstable and Houghton Regis. People will have to wait 30 minutes for a bus service going down Houghton Road to Dunstable. People living at Tithe Farm will have to get two buses to go to Morrisons and may have to buy two bus tickets.”

Linsey Frostick, Arriva’s regional marketing manager, said: “There are two less buses an hour to Dunstable on the road services as most people are choosing to make that journey on the Busway A service.

“Our review on the Houghton Road to Dunstable section of the 38 route shows that there are, on average, only 20 people boarding along this section per hour and as a result this means a bus every 15 minutes is underutilised, which is the reason for the reduction. The Busway A service runs from Tithe Farm Road to Morrisons so two buses are not required. We are looking at ticketing options for where a connection is needed so that there is no additional increase.”

Councillor Murray added: “Over the last few years we have gone from five to four buses per hour down Houghton Road to Dunstable and now these new changes will see it go down to two.”

Ms Frostick added: “Houghton Regis remains a very important area for our network and with the growth on our Busway A service we have made changes to best match demand and ensure we are catering for the future growth.

“Houghton Regis is well connected to all areas of the Luton and Dunstable conurbation and the Busway service provides great links to the airport and to London via coach or train.”