All change as passengers prepare for loss of St Albans bus tomorrow

Save the 712

Save the 712 - Credit: Archant

Loyal 712 bus users are gearing up for their last journey ahead of the route’s termination this week with some commuters having to search for a new job or face extortionate train fares.

A selection of the 712's bus users at the meeting with Uno

A selection of the 712's bus users at the meeting with Uno - Credit: Archant

Despite crisis talks with Uno bosses, as well as a petition, and an increase in passengers during the service’s dying days, the bus wheels will officially grind to a halt tomorrow.

Fiona Couper, lead representative for the ‘Save the 712’ campaign, said they made no progress in Monday’s meeting with Uno general manager Michael Finn: “First of all he made the argument there was not enough people on the bus, then too many so they had to put on a double-decker. I don’t know if he wants to be unsuccessful or too successful.”

She added he identified petrol costs, concessions, and the increase of insurance costs by over 50 per cent as key problems.

The St Albans resident said: “We really don’t know what we’re going to do. I have found a minibus firm to try and run that ourselves but that’s probably madness!”

She added that one user, a teaching assistant, now had to search for another job in the wake of the affordable bus’s closure.

But it’s not just commuters who will suffer from the loss of the service as the University of Herts was also up in arms over the decision.

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Referencing the service’s slogan Fiona said: “It isn’t the University bus for everyone any more. Or it is as long as you don’t live in north London and need to get to University of Herts.”

Fiona said students chose the university as a result of the bus service and had now been left without the transport promised: “You would be absolutely furious.”

Councillor Simon Grover who also attended the meeting said: “Mr Finn admitted that the service was not advertised beyond the company’s own website, and that they have not tried a small increase in fares to plug the funding gap.

“I’m glad to report that UNO are going to explore other ways of structuring this service so that it could be revived.”

But Fiona said plans for a revival were by no means a promise, adding: “I will eat my hat if we get any further with Uno.”

Mr Finn told the Herts Advertiser that a low concessionary reimbursement rate and a difficult financial situation faced by bus operators had led to the service’s closure, but mentioned no plans to revive the route.

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