Luton bus company cuts services as passenger numbers fall post pandemic and costs rise

A bus company says falling passenger numbers and rising costs are the reason it is withdrawing two services in Luton after more than 20 years.

By Lynn Hughes
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 12:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 12:47 pm

Grant Palmer Limited is planning to withdraw services 3 and 35 from Monday, June 6, 2022.

The services currently operate six days a week connecting residents to Luton Town Centre from Cutenhoe Road, Tennyson Road and Culverhouse Road.

The company says that since the pandemic passenger numbers have fallen, fuel and driver costs have increased massively and Luton Council has cut the payment received for free passes.

Grant Palmer is cutting back on bus services in Luton

Thomas Manship for Grant Palmer, said: “After 20 years of operation we are withdrawing the services because they are no longer economically viable to operate. Discussions with Luton Council to find alternative funding were unsuccessful. We have consulted with them fully over this decision. We are truly sorry and sad about the service withdrawals.”

The bus company also changed some of its ticket prices and services from April 4. Student fares have now been withdrawn and the Luton and Dunstable Zone weekly ticket now costs £15.

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A Luton Council spokesman said: “The council has not cut back on the issue of free bus passes.

“Eligibility for bus passes is controlled by central government criteria and where applicants meet these criteria we are obliged to issue passes. At the moment the council continues to issue on average about 7,000 new bus passes each year. What has changed markedly since the pandemic is that bus use, including passengers holding concessionary passes, has decreased significantly.

“With factors such as the increasing cost of fuel it has therefore become increasingly difficult for bus operators to cover the costs for all the routes, especially those which are less frequently used. While the council has a fund of money to reimburse operators based on bus pass use, this is reducing each year and we are not in a position to subsidise commercial operations from the public purse. With the much welcomed recent announcement of £19.1m of government money to improve bus services within the town, we will continue to work with all operators to provide an efficient and reliable system in Luton that benefits all, not least those who rely most heavily on public transport.”

For full details regarding the withdrawal of services 3 and 35 go to www.grantpalmer.com