Letters, October 28, 2010, part four

PUBLISHED: 11:36 28 October 2010

Fight to save 712

SIR – I read of the demise of the 712 Green Line service (Herts Advertiser, October 14) with regret but not surprise. I commute to London three times a week sometimes in the peak and also on the later service at 9.55am.

I really feel St Albans’ long suffering commuters have missed a golden opportunity to travel to London in comfort and for less money.

What wasn’t mentioned in your article was the introductory price held for 16 months – £9.50 return (cheaper if you buy a regular ticket) for the early service and for the rest of the day and Saturdays £5 return, yes £5 for a coach that will take to Brent Cross, Baker Street, Oxford Street, Marble Arch, Park Lane, and Victoria return! That’s still cheaper than it costs to park your car at the station!

St Albans commuters wake up, you have missed a real chance to change your commute for good,

To not only get to London in comfort, have a seat and arrive at work not feeling you’ve just completed an army assault course has got to be better than the alternative.

OK, one bus in the peak and two at the end of the day may not be enough but if people had got behind the service I’m sure they would have added more coaches as they do for Hemel and Stevenage, they’re always packed.

Don’t forget they ran all last winter throughout the bad weather when the trains were in chaos!

You only have to look back to last Monday when engineering works overran on FCC, five tube lines were disrupted including the Jubilee line where commuters had to be evacuated from trains, what a great way to start the working week!

Not only can you travel in comfort but like some commuters you can take your fold up bike or of course you can hire once you get to London.

Many regular users south of the city park on the turnings off the Watford Road and pick the bus up at the Three Hammers or opposite Forge End.

I would rather do that than leave my car in Griffiths Way for the day and catch the Abbey Flyer which of course means changing trains and possibly a tube journey as well. This is (and soon to be was) a direct service to the heart of London.

For the retired, the service has been a fantastic revelation. The service is free with a bus pass. Unfortunately the coaches were at best half full and the afternoon coaches run empty which has led to the decision to axe the service. So it wasn’t a surprise when the announcement came

I just think St Albans commuters and travellers to London have missed out on a first-class service. So when you’re planning your Christmas shopping don’t forget it drops you right outside Primark Oxford Street, you can do your shopping, not get it crushed in tube barriers, have lunch, see the lights and have a good day out for £5, now that’s a bargain!

Sadly I fear it’s too late to save it now, use it or lose it they say, well in January you will!

NAME & ADDRESS

SUPPLIED

SIR – Is there any way we can get Arriva to do an about turn and think again about their decision to cancel the excellent 712 Green Line coach from St Albans to the centre of London?

What has gone wrong with this service? It most certainly cannot be the price of the ticket because a special offer off-peak price of £5 from St Albans into London AND return is an absolute bargain.

Travelling in an air-conditioned coach with a friendly driver and passengers who are quiet and not eating smelly food must be preferable to travelling with First Capital Connect’s expensive train where you are lucky if you can get a seat.

So what else could be done? Adjusting the timetable and route might help.

But I believe the main reason is that residents in St Albans just do not know about this excellent service because those who do know are dismayed at the recent decision, particularly the many people who use the 712 to get to their job in London.

As last week’s Editor’s comment stated: “Everyone who has used the 712 bus service from St Albans to London has been full of praise for it so it is a huge shame that it is going to the wall after only a year because of lack of business.

It is even more ironic that there are seats available during peak periods when First Capital Connect trains are full to overflowing. Perhaps commuters just prefer to suffer.

Together with Roma Mills I campaigned to get a service from St Albans to Victoria and like many others feel it would be tragic to see it end.

ANN GRAHAM

Therfield Road, St Albans

SIR – I was so pleased when the 712 bus was introduced as I have a 90-year-old mother in London, and I visit weekly. It was costing me over £70 per month using the train, and my visits had to be restricted.

Using the bus, I can go if there is an emergency (she lives on her own). I will be so disappointed if this service is removed.

Perhaps Arriva would consider omitting the buses between 12 noon outgoing, and returning after 4pm from Victoria. I am sure that this would be used.

MARILYN MADDEN

Abbey Mills, St Albans

SIR – I live in Chiswell Green and have done for 27 years, and we have only heard about this new bus route through word of mouth.

There has been no marketing of any kind, and there have never been any posters or flyers in Chiswell Green.

I only heard about the service nine months after it had been operational, and I feel really cheated that it is now going to be withdrawn. It was stated on the Arriva web site that the 712 service was not well supported.

Clearly they have not been on the 9.55am bus which is usually full. The main problem is that many of the users have bus passes, so it would appear not to be economically viable.

I am sure that many of us that are fare-paying would pay considerably more than £5 return, and perhaps running a more limited time table.

I am sure, if asked that many seniors with bus passes, would also consider paying a small amount in order to keep the route operational, as this for many of them is the only easy way to visit London.

Butterfly World is to be fully completed with the new Dome in summer 2011, they have a dedicated 712 Green Line bus stop outside their main entrance.

What’s going to happen to the 712 bus visitors after January 2011 when this service has ceased?

Will this be another example of ineffectual marketing by Arriva?

MARILYN VERREY

Chiswell Green Resident

SIR – I would like to express my views on the cancellation of the 712 bus service St Albans/Victoria. This is a great service and well used as I sometimes have a problem getting a seat on the 9.55am at Chiswell Green and would be most upset, as are others, to lose this service.

I feel that this could have been advertised a lot more, especially in London to encourage visitors to St Albans, thereby using the northbound service a lot more.

I understand there is a campaign to keep this service and would like to register my comments to keep this service.

LINDA ROGERS

Watford Road, Chiswell Green

SIR – I am absolutely shocked to hear that Arriva intends to axe the 712 bus service in January.

I have used this service several times and find it a useful bus to get to London.

I have often caught the 9.55am from Chiswell Green and found it a good service. Occasionally it has been late arriving but this has been because of adverse traffic/ breakdowns in inner London.

However, having the M1 stretch just after Chiswell Green the bus has usually caught up and got me to Hyde Park on time.

I find it hard to believe this bus is not well used as on a couple of occasions I have found it hard to get a seat at Chiswell Green on the 9.55am and on one occasion people were turned away at the Black Boy because the bus was full.

Perhaps the bus isn’t so well used on some of the return trips but may I suggest if Arriva started the bus from Luton and returned to Luton there may be more passengers.

Often waiting at the Allsop Arms bus stop I see many tourists waiting for buses to Luton Airport. So with a bit of careful rescheduling surely this bus service could be saved?

Please, please keep this service going and do a bit more advertising of this bus. I have spoken to a lot of people who didn’t even know of this service.

We have a lot of UK and overseas visitors as well to our house and we always put them on this bus for sightseeing trips to London.

We think with the Olympics pending we will get even more visitors and this bus will be an essential bus to get to London.

If Arriva are adamant and will wield their axe on this service what will they replace it with? Perhaps they could consider changing the route of the 757 so it comes to Chiswell Green and St Albans before going to Hemel Hempstead. It is one suggestion but better still please keep the 712 running.

KEITH ROGERS

Address supplied

SIR – Reading Matthew Jackson-Hale article about the 712 I totally agree. I only found out about it a couple of weeks ago, when I needed to go to London unexpectedly and looked on the internet for my best route without car as I hate driving in busy places.

The times were right, the journey much easier than driving and then trying to find somewhere to park. So please let us keep this valuable link.

RITA FLOYD

Riverside Court, St Albans

Power of three

SIR – The astounding obduracy of the inner triumverate of the council (Cllrs Donald, Burton and Rowlands) defies comprehension.

Week after endless week we see letters from readers, some of whom have professional qualifications way in excess of our “big three”, and whose wise opinions we should receive with undying gratitude.

But instead we have this wall of silence which reminds me of Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Bridal of Triermain where the valiant knight of Triermain rung forth his challenge-blast again, but answer came there none. Lewis Carroll too in Through the Looking Glass used the same phrase.

And so following in such footsteps our dictatorial trio continue to ignore cogent reasoning for the sake of political expediency which increasingly appears is going to result with a pig in a poke swimming pool and a massive and unnecessary bill for refurbishing Bricket Wood – a liability they had tried to conceal from the electorate.

But that too seems completely in character when we read that Cllr Brazier (way down in the pecking order) is reported as saying that an LDF working party meeting was to be held in private as “there would be figures and questions that members would not want to ask in public”. The mind boggles.

So much for the democratic process from and open government from our Lib Dem local rulers.

PHILIP WEBSTER

Townsend Drive, St Albans


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