Plans to scrap 'godsend' bus service from Hemel Hempstead to London Victoria met with anger
Arriva says the last day of service will be December 4
Plans to scrap a ‘godsend’ bus service to London have been met with anger – and commuters say the move will double travel costs.
On Monday, Arriva announced that it intends to cease operating Green Line services between Hemel Hempstead and London Victoria next month.
The company said that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, passenger numbers were already declining, leading to operations being run out of Arriva’s Luton depot.
Whilst this did help with ensuring all 758 services operated as per the advertised timetable, it says that passenger numbers remained low.
And Arriva says that despite this, it remained committed to delivering services throughout the pandemic, maintaining a minimum level of service to enable key workers to travel to and from London and Hemel Hempstead.
One person said: "This service is SO MUCH better than the train, it is unreal. Guaranteed a seat. Was almost door to door from home to work for me. No multiple changes. Warm in most weathers and times. Now I will need a taxi to the train station, a train, underground, underground change."
Another added: "This is such bad news, this service was a godsend for us travelling into London."
John Shulver, from Grovehill, uses the service to commute to work in South Kensington, London from Hemel Hempstead.
He said: “When we moved to Hemel Hempstead, back in 2006, we chose our current house based on the Green Line route.
"It has always been convenient, the coach stop is an easy walk and once in London I can walk into my place of work. This must surely go some way to the UK being a greener place.
“My commute, once the service is withdrawn, will be bus, train and tube, not as green as the coach and about double the cost and an awful lot more hassle.
“The company could have done more to advertise this service, especially the fact that it’s half the price of commuting by rail and is so much easier.
“They also seem to have timetabled coaches in a way that seems, at present, to discourage leisure travellers.
“I realise that lockdown made things hard, but things are improving. The 4.10pm service from London has been getting busier over the last few months, but the next 758 is a lot later. A coach around 5.30pm, catching more possible commuters, would be very useful.
“Also why can’t the company divert a few of the London Luton 757s via Redbourn and along through Mayland, with a feeder service from the town center (and other parts of Hemel)? This would only add a few minutes to the services involved and would keep this useful coach service.
“Also, barely three weeks notice is a bit of poor treatment of the loyal customers who have used this service, in some cases for decades!”
Clair Evans, who uses the service to travel to London for days out and for onward travel to Liverpool and Dorset, said: “We live in Woodhall Farm and the bus stops here and we go to London, it is a great day out.
“In the summer we just get on the bus and go to Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and we have picnics in the park, it is a god send when the weather is warmer and there is so much to do.
“I’m disabled and I don’t drive, so for me getting one bus straight there is so much easier than getting two buses, just to get to the train station.
“It is a great day out and a really great service.
“Whenever we used it, it was always busy, people would be going to Lord’s as well to watch the cricket.
“Even if they did just a morning and evening service that would be beneficial to a lot of people.
“My mum lives in Dorset and my best friend lives in Liverpool, and I would use that service to go into London to get the coach to Liverpool or Dorset, it was a really handy and easy service.
“I think a lot of people will be frustrated an disappointed by the news.”
The last day of service will be Saturday, December 4.
Linsey Frostick, Luton depot general manager, said: “I recently asked for feedback on the service with a view of trying to get things to improve, unfortunately over recent weeks we have not seen a rise in passenger numbers and at the current levels the service is not sustainable.
“We would like to thank all our loyal and long serving customers for their custom over the years and want to convey that this is an extremely difficult decision for us to have made.
“We will continue to operate the 758 service, travelling to and from London, until 4th December 2021.”
A spokesperson for Arriva Southern Counties said: “We value and thank those loyal customers who have continued to use the service during the Covid 19 Pandemic, we give careful consideration to any service we withdraw and appreciate the impact this may cause to our passengers.
"Passenger recovery on the service has been extremely poor with only 26 per cent of the passengers using the service compared to pre covid worryingly this trend has stagnated with no significant increase for a number of weeks this is probably in part to the working patterns changing for a number of previous passengers, where they are either working from home and or commuting 2-3 days a week.
"The substantial loss in passengers, changes to funding and stagnated growth mean the service is unable to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of operation and therefore currently making substantial losses."