The DART Link from Luton Airport Parkway to the existing terminal is costing the Council £225 million. London Luton Airport Ltd are borrowing the money from Luton Borough Council, who in turn are borrowing the money themselves.
Interest repayments on the loans will come from diverting part of the LLAL dividend to the Council, that helps pay for Council services – meaning everyone will suffer.
Once opened in 2021 the DART will replace the shuttle buses, and shave a few minutes off the journey time but it will make no difference to the airport’s existing capacity that will be reached one year before the DART opens.
We have to question why the council is borrowing £225 million when there will be no financial or passenger gain to the existing airport? We also have to ask who will actually run and maintain the DART when it opens and at what cost?
Will it be a free service, as it is at other airports, or will passengers have to queue to buy expensive tickets? The existing shuttle bus service has some of the highest bus fares in the country, with a one mile journey at £2.40 for a single ticket or £3.80 return. As a return ticket costs £1.90 each way this would mean 118.42 million journeys would need to be completed to cover the building cost – but that does not include any interest payments or the day to day running costs and maintenance.
Passengers arriving by train account for just 15.7% of Luton’s passengers or around 2.82 million passengers a year based on the airport’s existing capacity. The argument about encouraging more people to arrive by train is lost by the fact that car journeys will increase by 75% if a second terminal is opened when the DART will have to be extended to a second terminal.
Link to ‘Luton today’ reporting the rise in Council Tax:
Luton Council and LLAL are masters of promoting headlines without going into any detail about why the figures just don’t add up.