Arriva blames extreme traffic congestion for reliability and overcrowding complaints on Hemel route
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Arriva has blamed issues passengers regularly experience on its route between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead to unpredictable nearby traffic.
The transport company’s 302 route has been criticised as both unreliable and often overcrowded. Arriva has been accused of struggling to meet customer demand on the route, with the number of buses connecting the Hertfordshire town and city declining in recent years.
However, Arriva announced in November plans to double the number of buses going between the areas by combining the 302 and 721 routes to deliver four buses per hour along this route.
But incidents of buses no-showing at short notice have been reported to the Hemel Hempstead Gazette in 2024.
One resident said: “I use Arriva's services in order to get to work. I rely on getting the number 4 bus at 6:56 in the morning to initially get me into Hemel Hempstead town centre. This bus runs once an hour whilst it's still early in the morning, generally once or twice a week there will be a morning where this bus doesn't arrive, so I then have to arrange other travel to get to town, often paying for Ubers just to complete the first part of my journey.
“Once in town, I then need to get on the 302 bus at 7:20 to get to my workplace in St Albans. Typically right from the off when this bus turns up there is already a big crowd of people waiting for it. And when it gets cut, it really has an effect. It's quite a regular occurrence, but for example, just recently on Friday 1 December the 7:20 302 bus didn't turn up, and the crowd had practically doubled by the time the next one arrived late. People who rely on this service and had already been waiting a long time in the cold, were getting turned away because the bus was already too full on its departure.
"This bus fills up very fast, including all of the standing space, and most mornings can barely accommodate anymore people at subsequent stops.”
Arriva has acknowledged some of the difficulties customers face on the route, a spokesperson said in response: “There’s been a number of engineering issues recently which have affected the services we operate around Hemel Hempstead and we’re truly sorry for the issues that have impacted on our customers.
“The biggest challenge in this area is that there is extreme traffic congestion and it is often difficult to predict what road conditions will be like, especially when there are problems on the M1 and M25.
“We have increased the amount of buses between Hemel Hempstead and St Albans and this was done in November 2023.
“We’ve doubled the amount of buses serving the two towns and we are always open to listening to our customers’ feedback.”
The resident was also critical of Arriva’s complaint service saying customers often get generic responses and only occasionally get specific feedback after lodging a complaint. She also stated that evening services are just as busy, if not worse, and that the 16:29 rarely turns up. Meaning customers can be left waiting in the dark for over an hour for the next one.