Excluding buses from Leighton Buzzard town centre is having "significant negative impact" on passengers, claims Arriva boss
The services D1, 32 and 34/35 will move to Lake Street (near the library) 'to get closer to the main retail area' from Sunday
Bus company Arriva is changing the routes of some of its smaller Leighton Buzzard services, which will now drop residents off at Lake Street instead of West Street
Starting this Sunday (July 18), services D1, 32 and 34/35 will move to Lake Street (near the library) to "get closer to the main retail area".
The buses used to run through the High Street, but after it was pedestrianised in 2020 to support social distancing, shoppers were dropped off at West Street instead.
Central Bedfordshire and Leighton-Linslade Town Councillor, Victoria Harvey, said: "These are the smaller buses. The Dunstable to Milton Keynes service will still be using West Street.
"The good thing about this is that it gives the opportunity for people to be dropped outside the library and the surgery and it will bring them closer to the top of the High Street. I think it's a good move.
"People can shelter in the entrance to the library and it is not far from the cafes, and there are some alleyways. However, it is far from perfect facility-wise and there is unlikely to be money for more shelters.
"But in the long term, when decisions on the future of the high street [pedestrianisation] are made, buses and cyclists need to be properly considered. If it is pedestrianised, some serious money needs to be spent to help the buses."
The changes are as follows:
For the D1 Sandhills to Leighton Buzzard route, buses will move from West Street to Lake Street and run half-hourly with amended times "to better coordinate with the revised train timetable to and from Euston".
For the 32/33 Leighton Buzzard to Tilsworth service, the route will run as a loop with a new 33 service. Both will run the full loop with each service running in the opposite direction. Buses will no longer serve West Street, instead running via Lake Street.
For the 34/35 Leighton Buzzard Town service, the route will run as a loop with each service running in the opposite direction. Buses will no longer serve West Street, instead running via Lake Street.
The changes to the services have been discussed on social media with some residents questioning whether there had been a public consultation. However, CBC confirmed that bus operators do not need to carry out a public consultation before making changes to their routes.
Cllr Harvey added: "If you are struggling with mobility, you can take the Buzzer Bus which has permission to go into the High Street and you can be dropped off directly at the shops."
Call: 01525 853 566 or visit: https://www.buzzerbuses.co.uk/An Arriva spokeswoman, said: "Leighton Buzzard High Street was closed to traffic last year on the premise of supporting social distancing, with buses moved out to West Street. Central Bedfordshire Council have advised this closure will remain in place until at least the autumn, and that any decision on whether the closure will become permanent may not be made until March 2022. With this in mind our town services will revert to serving Lake Street from 18 July; this was part of their previous routing and is as close as we are able to get to the High Street.
"We firmly believe the right place for these services is in the High Street itself, and that excluding buses from the town centre is having a significant negative impact on our customers. Our Area Managing Director, Simon Finnie, has expressed this concern to both Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, and with Andrew Selous MP."
A Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman, said: “Bus routes are a commercial decision by Arriva who run bus services across Central Bedfordshire. The Council provides no financial support to Arriva and does not have any influence or input on routes and timetables. Bus operators do not need to carry out any public consultation before making changes to the routes they run.”
In March, CBC confirmed that an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order for the pedestrianisation of the High Street is in place until March 2022, at which point it will "consider all options" in its review and "make a decision as to whether the restrictions should be made permanent or withdrawn".
For more information about the changes, visit: https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/latest-news/changes-to-leighton-buzzard-services-from-18th-julyWhat do you think about the changes and the impact of pedestrianisation on the High Street? Email [email protected]