New bus station for: Stevenage

Tuesday 12th July 2022

It’s always good to see investment in new bus stations and the last few weeks have seen two open up for business.

Stevenage’s new ‘Transport Interchange’ has provided a real step change with a greatly improved waiting area for passengers in a purpose built building housing ten saw-tooth drive in and reverse out bays as well as a decent enclosed area for passengers including two unisex toilet cubicles and a third accessible one.

It replaces an open air rectangular space where buses pulled up at bus stops each with an individual shelter.

Construction of the new bus station began in late 2020 and has been funded by a £9.6 million Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. It’s part of a £1 billion 20 year regeneration programme of Stevenage town centre.

There’s no doubt it’s a much better environment for passengers than the old bus station but one downside is its location. It’s located next door to the large Arts and Leisure Centre lying across the dual carriageway called Lytton Way, just a couple of minutes walk away from the railway station …

You can see the bus station from the rail station across Lytton Way.

…. it’s now much further from the retail centre of the town where the main shops are located. So better for interchange with trains; less so for shoppers.

There are eight seats by each of the ten departure bays….

….. together with a large area between them for passengers to queue to exit through doors which open automatically only if a bus is on the stand.

Each bay has an electronic departure sign above the door on which the information is rather small to read from a distance…

…. but there’s a much larger sign at the other end of the seats which you can stand right in front of and has a much easier to read ‘point size’.

The area behind the waiting area of each bay for pedestrian circulation up and down the ten bays is also quite spacious….

…. and there are timetable departure panels on the wall which incorporate a list showing which route departs from which stand.

The toilets are located off a pedestrian entrance area which also has seats ….

…. and a “Customer Information” point which was manned by someone with ‘Security’ on their uniform so I’m not sure how far they’re able to give out information about bus departures rather than be experts in security arrangements.

As well as static departure lists there are also electronic departure boards displaying both upcoming bus departures – over the next two hours too – and train departures from the railway station.

The bus station also has two retail units which so far haven’t been let, but it’s early days. Footfall is quite good so I’m sure there’ll be a coffee outlet before long.

The passenger waiting area isn’t fully enclosed at either end and I did wonder whether passengers waiting at bay A might get wet or windswept in inclement weather as they sit waiting for their bus.

It’s good to see a large circulating apron for buses to pull on to and drive off the stands together with a parking area for buses on layover.

One of the benefits of moving to this new site is the greater ‘footprint’ than the previous layout afforded, enabling a larger bus manoeuvring area to be incorporated.

Arriva are the main operator with their buses dominating the bus scene in the town but there are also appearances from Centrebus, Central Connect and UNO.

Central Connect have take delivery of four new Enviro200 buses including this example operating on the infrequent route 386 to Bishops Stortford

All buses pass through the bus station except for route 302 heading northwards to Lister Hospital which stop alongside the rail station at bus stop N.

There’s also a bus stop lettered L opposite the rail station for coach departures.

The new bus station has recently been awarded ‘Project of the Year’ at the Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire Constructing Exercise Club Awards 2022, so that’s all good.

There’s no doubt it’s a much more pleasant area to wait and catch a bus from than the old bus station and the greater space for both passengers and buses is to be welcomed as are the facilities and close proximity to the station for easy interchange.

It’s just a pity these benefits are offset by the new location being further away from the shops.

Planners are planing to transform the old bus station site …..

….. into a public realm showpiece including “a ‘pop-up park’ with informal play features and natural seating areas that face a performance area. This will allow spectators to enjoy the green space whilst enjoying impromptu performances. In addition to the large park area” …. is a… “proposed multi-purpose events zone, surrounded by seating and canopies. We recognise the importance of this being an active space even without events, so have designed the green spaces, seating and lighting in a way that will provide a relaxed environment for people to enjoy at any time of day“.

I’m sure shoppers will appreciate all that as they walk through, laden with shopping bags, on their way to the new Stevenage Interchange.

And, of course, as it’s all the rage these days, there’s a competition to name the new space replacing the old bus station, this time aimed at school children….

Remember kids, “the name and logo must be fun and enticing”. Good luck.

Arriva are marking 50 years since London Country launched Stevenage SuperBus in July 1971 with Streetlite 4288 adopting the original livery.

While visiting Stevenage bus station I toyed with the idea of trying another trip with the HertsLynx DRT service over to Buntingford. As you can see from the screenshot of the App at 10:56 below, it would have entailed a wait of nearly an hour to 11:51 so decided to give it a miss. Interestingly had I pursued the option of ordering the journey the previous day, Monday, the App had offered me a journey for 11:00 but I didn’t book it, wanting to retain flexibility on times until I arrived in Stevenage.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu

17 thoughts on “New bus station for: Stevenage

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  1. So the 386 bus is going to Buntingford, but Roger hunts for the DRT instead. Am I the only person left wondering if this blog thinks we should support local buses, or find any excuse to get shot of them?

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    1. Yes Essex Smurf – you are the only one wondering. Roger is clearly passionate about supporting local buses, and has a long history as demonstrated in this blog of being so.

      Roger can surely explain himself but I’d guess Roger is being his enthusiastic and diligent self in seeking to “run the rule” over the Herts DRT; as evidenced in many of his earlier blogs, he often will challenge his pre-conceptions and see what these schemes actually provide. Always best to talk from a position of knowledge and experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The bus was out of service (displaying Stevenage on the blind) not departing for Buntingford and Bishops Stortford until 12:50 – two hours later.
      Suspect it was going for a driver change.

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  2. Excellent review on the new bus station. I was in Stevenage just a couple of months ago and saw the new facility as it was having its final fitting out. Like you, I was a bit concerned that the location is a bit peripheral compared to the old site, though the centre is likely to be extensively redeveloped so that it more readily connects with the new bus station. One would hope that it does take place rather than leaving the bus station on a limb, though I suspect it will happen as the development will involve a lot of new flats as well as commercial premises.

    I was also a bit surprised that the place isn’t fully enclosed – the logic of that escapes me. Like you, I suspect a coffee shop will appear – fingers crossed.

    Perhaps outside your own self imposed remit but whilst there’s a nice new interchange, there’s the issue of the local bus fleets. Good to see Trustybus aka Connect investing in new fleet rather than an archaic selection of ex Arriva/First Solos. However, the Arriva fleet is some of the most poorly presented, down at heel vehicles in any major group fleet. Whilst the SB heritage bus may look smart, the Pulsar to the right of it is more typical

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    1. Arriva’s Stevenage buses are due to be replaced by a fleet of shiny new electric ones, thanks to a successful Zebra bid in partnership with Herts CC.

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  3. A large proportion of politicians view the bus solely as a way of accessing the railway, hence calls for more integration.
    Clearly the proportion of bus users going on to use rail is different for each town and city, moving a bus station away from the retail hub makes little sense to either most bus passengers or local retailers.
    Ease of intermodal transfer is important but not at the expense of the majority of bus users.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bus use for shopping, once it has recovered to pre-covid levels, is not likely to increase much – unless Stevenage council become active in trying to achieve transfer from car to public transport, and/or Arriva unexpectedly improve their service quality. However, bus as a means to access rail could well be the extra 10% that bus operators are trying to achieve, IF it is made easier (e.g. better evening services for returning passengers). Stevenage rail station has reasonably frequent trains to a lot of useful destinations; missing are Luton (town and airport), Buntingford, and Saffron Walden – none of which are well served by bus either! – perhaps there’s another 10% more passengers…

      What is not clear is why, with the new bus station nearer the rail station, there are not convenient (and modern, clean, comfortable, well-signed) bus stops in the shopping area, that all services call at as well as the bus station; I don’t know Stevenage at all, and it may be that this would be difficult for some reason, but it should be tried, at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a long time since I have been to Stevenage. The new bus station is nearer the rail station. It is on the shop side of the A602 the rail station is on the otherside of the A602. There is a footbridge from the rail station to the shopsThe new bus station and rail station are so close together there is no practicable way to serve both

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  4. I always assumed bus stations were for operational and interchange (rail and/or bus) purposes, not so much destinations in themselves. Buses can drop off anywhere…

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  5. The last time I went to Stevenage was nearly forty years ago. The London Country depot had the filthiest, oiliest garage floor I have ever seen despite being a relatively modern structure..

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  6. So with a new bus terminal now in place will a new evening bus timetable come with this. Stevenage borough likes to pride themselves with a green environment but with bus routes finishing early in the evenings makes people use the car especially from areas of entertainment being the leisure centre, football, and evenings socialising.

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    1. Living very close for 20 odd years and then actually living in Stevenage town centre for 4 years, I believe i can speak on the town’s behalf.

      Stevenage is, i believe, one of the BEST connected towns in the South East of England. The rail station being only 27 miles from Central London has great links to the City and beyond, (Brighton & Horsham), with at least 6 trains per hour, (4 Thameslink/Great Northern & 2 LNER per hour) plus plentiful trains to northbound destinations including Cambridge, Peterborough Leeds and the North. Not forgetting to chuck in Lumo & Hull trains too. That’s just the rail options !!.

      The Bus offering is plentiful too with Arriva providing the majority of the town services (which interestingly have reverted back to using the Superbus/Stevenage Bus SB route numbers around the same time as the opening of the interchange. Other operators also provide services into and out of the town. Sticking with the town services, SB2 & SB3 along with SB4 & SB5 operate as clockwise and anti clockwise services from the town to the outlying estates of Pin Green / St Nicholas or Shephall / Broadwater. These routes run every 12/15 mins dropping to every 30 mins eves and Sundays. The SB1 is an out and back from town to Chells and Poplars every 10 mins dropping to every 30 mins eves and Sundays. Then there’s the SB6 town circular every hour. The SB7 to Gt Ashby every 30 mins and SB8 /SB9 which is an out and back to Symonds Green and Bragbury End, again these are every 30mins dropping to hourly eves and Sundays. There are also other routes from Stevenage out to Hertford, Letchworth Garden City, Welwyn Garden City or St Albans operating at 2 hourly, hourly or half hour frequencies. Luton via Hitchin
      & the Airport or Stopsley is covered every 30 mins alternately or you can meander via Knebworth and the villages every couple of hours. For a town of its size it has great public transport links and the majority of the satellite areas have a bus departing the town at 23:30 thanks to Herts CC subsidising the evening services. If only other towns could claim their services are just as good as Stevenage !!.

      The interchange sounds like a great move, (ive yet to see it for myself) but i think it’s a move in the right direction to integrate the rail and bus stations. I also read there is going to be a good repurpose for the old bus station which was located centrally to the retail area and is planned to be redeveloped into a green open area surrounded by retail and residental units.

      This can only be a plus for the first new town

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Certainly a bad move for the majority by taking it away from the actual Town Centre shops. Considering how busy the former bus station was, the photographs seem to show less activity or perhaps just co-incidence. Although many miles from Stevenage, I thought the heat yesterday had created a mirage! There were actually printed timetables for most services in the racks at Bolton bus station yesterday, but clearly the lack of racks at Stevenage shows this unlikely to be happening there any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Just a quick response to comments that the new bus station is distant from the town centre. The regeneration plans for Stevenage make provision for the town centre amenities effectively to shift west towards the site of the new bus station as development takes place. Indeed, one of the reasons the bus station was moved was to free-up valuable space in the town centre for retail and, perhaps most importantly, for residential development. Vacant office buildings have already been torn down or converted into flats.

    I think hats-off to Stevenage Borough Council for investing considerable sums in a new bus station. No doubt they will reap the benefits of rental income once the old site is eventually development but nevertheless it was a bold move and shouts out to all residents that bus passengers matter.

    When I visited the bus station last Saturday the security chap was doing an excellent job advising passengers on where to catch their bus.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I visited Stevenage on Wednesday 6 July, and was also impressed with the new Bus Station . . . good to see panel departure lists on display as well as the ubiquitous departure screens. Passenger numbers seemed to be quite good for 1100 (and again at 1400).
    The general point about being a few minutes walk from the shops is well made, but it is only a few minutes, and it is now much easier to interchange with train services; once the building work is complete, then the interchange should be very easy indeed, which is surely a big plus point.
    With electric town buses (may we hope for SUPERBUS livery?) then Stevenage could return to being the pathfinder for buses that it was in the 1970s!!

    I also went to Welwyn Garden City bus station on ythe same day . . . very poor signage from the rail station . . . I had to ask which way from a girl in a shop!! Good information available, but very low passenger numbers . . . I guess that reflects the shopping opportunities and also the population demographic.

    And finally . . . I also visited Watford a few days later . . . very disappointing . . . the bus stop tiles STILL haven’t been updated since April, despite the Intalink team being notified. There is no Stop H in Market Street (demolished and not replaced?). Timetables are posted on stops that aren’t served . . . I tried to approach my journeys as a passenger might, but had to give up and use my knowledge to escape!! Not good, Intalink.

    Liked by 1 person

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