Luton and Dunstable Busway
Along with other local environmental groups in Luton and Dunstable, South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth campaigned for many years for the reinstatement of the railway line between Leighton Buzzard and Luton. However, in March 2010 they came to the conclusion that the transport situation in Dunstable was so severe that there was a serious need for immediate improvements to public transport. There was very little likelihood of a railway line being built in the near future as the local authorities did not support it. This was in the context of the East-West rail link between Oxford and Bletchley having taken many years even to get anywhere near the point of laying rails, let alone opening the line, even though the existing track bed existed and all the local authorities backed it, . SBFOE were worried that if the busway was not built, the investment would not go into buses and cycling but would go into more roads etc. SBFOE believed that it was important that this was built before the A5-M1 link road north of Dunstable, otherwise they feared that the project would not get funded. They were also very concerned at how difficult it was for young people in Luton to access skills training from Central Bedfordshire College due to lack of direct bus routes; the busway would help with this as the busway stops rights beside Central Bedfordshire College. After much debate and discussion and negotiation with Central Bedfordshire Council,.SBFOE made the very difficult decision to support the busway.
The final results of the negotiations with Central Bedfordshire Council in March 2010 were:
- The guided busway will include a cycle track along its whole length, creating a safe and easy route between Dunstable and Luton.
- In addition to this, Central Bedfordshire is aiming to introduce funding for cycling schemes.
- Cycling improvements: further funds have been set aside for cycling improvements to be carried out in the coming year.
- Strategic cycle network: Central Bedfordshire Council will work with Luton and Dunstable Cycle Forum and Dunstable Friends of the Earth to identify schemes to be delivered this year within the context of the strategic cycle network.
- Hospital access: Central Bedfordshire has committed to work with the Luton and Dunstable hospital to explore better ways of joint working, including helping the hospital to develop their own travel plan.
- Public transport information and provision: Central Bedfordshire Council will spend up to £200,000 to greatly improve public transport information provision for Dunstable and Houghton Regis area. The council is also exploring the possibility of introducing real time passenger information into the area, and will look to roll this out as and when opportunity arises.
- Work will also be carried out to combine the budget for transport for that is used by health, social services and education to provide transport more efficiently for these areas and also to support increased public transport.
- Central Bedfordshire Council will make sure that new developments will provide sustainable transport alternatives whilst working with neighbouring authorities to develop a transport strategy, including Milton Keynes, Bedford, Luton, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire. The aim will be to promote sustainable transport alternatives. This joint working will form a key part of the Local Transport Plan.
- Central Bedfordshire has just appointed a dedicated travel plan officer who will help businesses and new developments to promote cycling, buses and walking.
- Promoting shops: the stations on the Luton and Dunstable Busway will promote local businesses and shops in Dunstable. Central Bedfordshire will work with Dunstable Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce to actively promote the shops and the market in Dunstable.
The busway was opened in 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-24224674
Some of these promises from Central Bedfordshire Council have now been implemented, such as the cycle route which runs the whole way along the Busway. This has been planted with native wildflowers. Since its opening, some of the busway services have been extended to Leighton Buzzard and the number of students for Central Bedfordshire College from Luton has increased due to improved access. Despite its support, SBFOE is still very concerned that many local bus services are not being properly funded and many being cut
demands? or something less strident?