Luton to Dunstable Busway

Look no hands!

A friend on Facebook - Jenny from the wonderful band Spacedog - mentioned she'd travelled to work on the new guided busway that joins Luton to nearby Dunstable, apparently the biggest town in England without a railway station. She also linked to the rather fascinating blog all about Luton, Yoga World and Pesto, a website almost as captivating as The Lost Promenade, which I urge you all to follow. It occurred to me that I could get to Luton direct from Brighton, via St Pancras, on what was once known as the Thameslink. It would take less than two hours and cost less than 20 quid, so I thought I'd go and check it out.

The 'A' bus to Luton Airport
The journey up was painless, there was a lovely signalbox at St Albans to spot, but no steam interest. Luton station seems to divide Luton from Hightown, the subject of the above mentioned blog, but I didn't get that side of the tracks, instead headed for the bus stop where I could see an 'A' bus had just arrived. And yes, my bus pass was valid! But it was raining and I didn't get a prime seat for photography, so just enjoyed the journey. I'd heard of busways before but never seen or been on one.

I got off at the High Street in Dunstable and followed the cast-iron signposts to the tourist information, spotted an Art Deco cinema turned conference centre, but ended up in Asda car park! However, across the road was a futuristic JD Wetherspoons pub, the Gary Cooper, and so had a pint of Growler Priory Mild for £2.15! Didn't fancy a curry, so popped across the road and caught the next bus (another 'A') back to Luton. This time I got the seat at the front next to the driver. I could see that when he'd been funnelled into the busway, he could take his hands off the steering wheel, but not for long, there were junctions and crossings to negotiate.

The way back from Dunstable

I didn't go all the way to the airport, but back at Luton trotted along to the beginning of the busway to see how it worked. Basically it's a concrete railway, built along an old railway line, with car traps to keep the traffic out.

Bus heading for Luton
A puzzled woman approached me and asked why? I said because they're faster than normal roads, and the buses have the advantage over trams or light railways in that they can also drive on regular roads when the busway ends. Later I noticed the little guide wheel at the front that does the business.

  The guide wheel

I then decided to explore Luton so headed towards the tower of the impressive town hall. I found the tourist information in the library and picked up leaflets and maps, but walked all round the Mall looking for the indoor market.

Luton town hall

On the way back to the station, I experienced 'Loho' the rather seedy ‘tri-street area of Guildford / Bute St / Cheapside’ according to the above blog and, attracted by an A-board chalk sign that said FREE (wifi) / (awesome) COFFEE, popped into the Hat Factory, now an arts centre, where I had a salad sandwich (on white - I should have asked for brown!) and a cappuccino. But it did indeed have wifi, so I was able to see what was happening on Facebook!

  Tiles on a tattoo s

The journey back was quite busy once we hit London Bridge, and it was only 4.30! Do people leave work earlier these days?

More photos on Flickr - or just click on one of the above snaps.