Grisly farewell to bus services

A wake for buses in Hemel Hempstead. Terry Figg, with top hat,  Martin Abrams and Susan Dye

A wake for buses in Hemel Hempstead. Terry Figg, with top hat, Martin Abrams and Susan Dye

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The grim reaper visited Hemel town centre on Wednesday, paying a grisly farewell to various weekend and evening bus services in the town.

Campaigners from both Save Our Buses Hertfordshire and Campaign for Better Transport held the fancy dress protest in the Marlowes, with a pall bearer and mourners, over cuts which take effect this month.

A wake for buses in Hemel Hempstead. Terry Figg, with top hat,  Martin Abrams and Susan Dye

A wake for buses in Hemel Hempstead. Terry Figg, with top hat, Martin Abrams and Susan Dye

The protest also called at Stevenage and Hitchin as campaigners directed their ire at both the government and Herts County Council.

Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner for the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We’ve spoken to thousands of people, and they support this campaign because they understand the importance of bus services.

“Yes we’re in difficult times financially, but it is a question of priorities. How will this affect people who don’t drive but work as part of the night-time economy, or who want to socialise in the evenings and weekends when these bus services are being cut?

“It’s a question of priorities. The government is spending £20billion on new road building - a fraction of that would mean we would avoid these draconian cuts across the county.

“Meanwhile Essex County Council, one of our neighbouring authorities, also has financial challenges - but they are spending money to try to grow their bus services because they see it as a source of revenue and not an opportunity to make damaging short-term cuts.”

Derrick Ashley, cabinet member for transport at County Hall, said: “There will be changes to several routes, but the number of passenger journeys which are affected is actually quite small. These changes don’t affect the vast majority of the public who use buses in Hertfordshire.”

What do you think of the bus cuts? Email thegazette@jpress.co.uk