Beds, Herts & Bucks

Delayed Luton-Dunstable guided busway opening announced

Grant Palmer bus on Luton-Dunstable guided busway
The busway plan between Luton and Dunstable has gone about £500,000 over budget

A £91m guided busway in Bedfordshire will open in September, five months late, the council has confirmed.

The eight-mile (13.4km) mainly guided route along a stretch of old railway line from Luton to Dunstable was due to open in April.

Luton Council said the project, funded by an £80.3m government grant and council contributions, is also about £500,000 over budget.

It said reasons for the delay included allowing extra time for design.

The route, spanning residential areas in Dunstable, Houghton Regis and the west of Luton, will provide connections between the three town centres, Luton Airport Parkway station and the airport.

The busway is now due to open to passengers in September

Three bus companies - Arriva, Centrebus and Grant Palmer - will operate four new routes from 25 September, that together will provide services up to every seven minutes at peak times.

Luton Borough Council claims it is "the second longest busway in the world and the longest in an urban environment".

Design extension

It said the budget for the project was £90.088m with "overall out-turn costs" expected to be £90.6m - representing an overspend of about 0.5%.

The balance, above the government funding, will come from third parties, including Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and developer contributions, known as section 106 agreements.

The council said the main reasons for the delay were to finalise land acquisition and extra time for the design period allowed it to identify savings.

Council portfolio holder for environment Councillor Dave Taylor said it was "incredibly exciting" to announce the opening after 20 years of planning and three years in construction.

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