The Challenge

Strategic studies of the disused rail alignment between Luton and Dunstable had concluded that although an enhanced mass transit link between the two towns would offer considerable benefits, the reinstatement of a heavy rail line could not be justified by likely demand and a bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme would offer better value for money. A guided busway would be required because of width restrictions en route where the former rail alignment would be re-used.

Luton Borough Council needed a convincing business case for the busway in order to secure Department for Transport (DfT) funding, showing how a high quality, integrated bus service could be delivered in a context where the deregulated bus market could not be compelled to offer services.

SYSTRA's Role

SYSTRA assisted the Council in preparing its submission to the DfT by updating earlier demand modelling to show likely demand for the proposed bus service under various future scenarios. The proposal was successful in securing funding of £91m for the guided busway and a range of other improvements.

Through intensive communication exercises and negotiations with local bus operators, SYSTRA was able to secure commitments from three companies to run full bus services on the new busway when it opened and to broker arrangements to improve integration between operators, including a multi-operator integrated ticket (Hip-Hop).

Services on the busway would require investment in new and upgraded vehicles and SYSTRA was able to support the bus operators here as well. We produced confidential, bespoke ridership projections to support the preparation of business cases that were successful in securing investment finance.