Campaigners hoping to save the number 38 bus service achieved a victory of sorts as Central Beds Council swiftly announced plans for a new service.
The Gazette revealed last week that the Arriva route, which has been operating for several decades, is being scrapped in favour of a new ‘Z’ service using the busway.
But angry passengers said the 38, which connects Luton, Luton & Dunstable Hospital, Parkside in Houghton Regis and Dunstable town centre, is a vital service for the elderly and disabled. Now a new 38 service connecting Houghton Regis and Dunstable will run concurrently with the changes by the bus company.
A Central Beds Council spokesman said: “Following Arriva’s decision to withdraw the existing 38 service, we have drawn up plans for an alternative service. There will now be a new 38 and 38D service between Dunstable and Houghton Regis Parkside.”
The route will provide a half-hourly service from 9.45am onwards, between Monday and Friday, although some stops are hourly.
The council spokesman added: “The new 38 will also serve the Salters Way area, providing a much better service for that part of town. The buses will be fully equipped for disabled access.”
Houghton Regis councillor John Kane said: “It’s great news that CBC has saved this essential much-loved bus service. My ex-wife, who lives at Houghton Hall, bent my ear when she heard that the 38 bus service was being stopped, saying ‘they can’t do this’.
“CBC listened and said the funding will come from new developments in Houghton Regis and High Street North, Dunstable. Well done CBC.”
But not everyone is happy with the new service after the timetable was viewed online. Campaigner Paul Hooker, of Beale Street, Dunstable, said: “It’s far from a victory as the service will be useless to many in Dunstable who rely on the 38 in the mornings and will now be subject to hourly services until 9.45.
“Can you see kids happily waiting an hour outside the school gates?
“As for the weekend timetables, they seem to want the service to end early, again affecting those who work, or rely on night buses. I will be urging Arriva to meet with us and discuss this.”
Mr Hooker added: “If the timetable is incorrect I’ll amend this. To me, it shows Arriva the Shires don’t give two hoots about its customers.”