Call to save St Albans to London bus route

A COMMUTER from St Albans who could save around �5,000 a year by travelling on the 712 bus service has called on Arriva to rethink its decision to cancel the service.

Matthew Jackson-Hale contacted the Herts Advertiser after reading that the St Albans to London Victoria Green Line service would be cancelled in January, to see if there was any way of reversing the company’s decision.

Arriva, which runs the service, revealed last week that it was cancelling the 712 route because of low customer numbers which had failed to pick up as the company expected when they launched it a year ago.

For Matthew, who works as a compliance officer for a financial firm in Westminster, the decision is a blow and he believes it is due to Arriva’s lack of marketing, although that is something the company strongly rejects.

Matthew said that the service was perfect but nobody seemed to know about it. He said: “I found out about the 712 by surfing the internet one lunchtime and since then I have spoken to many friends about it, none of whom have heard of it.”

Prior to using the service, Matthew would drive into Westminster where his annual parking ticket would cost �3,600 and additional petrol and car-maintenance costs meant he faced an overall bill of �6,000.

Using the 712 service, it would cost him just �1,350 a year and the annual savings for a train user would be around �1,600.

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He said: “It’s really disappointing as I’ve only just let my parking ticket lapse so that I could begin using the service.

“I was looking forward to a far more relaxed commute and a 75 per cent reduction in costs.”

The aggrieved commuter pointed out that many train users bought annual tickets so they might not change their route into work until the pass was up for renewal and that cancelling the 712 service before it had really been given a chance failed to take that into account.

Matthew added: “This is too good a service for St Albans commuters and London day-trippers to let slip away without the community even realising what they are losing out on.”

A spokesperson for Arriva said that since the launch of the service they had initiated several marketing campaigns in St Albans, which had included promotions in the city centre, leaflet deliveries to local households, leaflet and promotions at the station, outdoor advertising and much more.

She said that they had specifically targeted commuters by spending evenings in St Albans station handing out leaflets that explained the considerable savings commuters could make by switching to the bus.

She added: “Since the conception of the service we have only managed to attract two annual season ticket holders which regrettably does not sustain the service.

“The convenience, the ability to sit back and relax and read a book or catch up on a bit of work are extremely positive aspects of travelling by coach and this has been communicated via several means but has not persuaded people to make the shift from the train to the coach.

“We fully appreciate that the decision to withdraw the service does inconvenience our current customers but there are insufficient numbers using the service frequently to sustain the service for the long term.”