Could St Albans 712 bus service be saved?

THE ‘SAVE the 712’ campaign was offered a glimmer of hope this week when Arriva, the company behind the Green Line service, contacted the action group to arrange a meeting regarding the service.

The news was welcomed by the campaigners who have been boosted by support since last week’s edition of the Herts Advertiser which contained details about the ‘Save the 712’ action group.

Since Thursday, over 100 people have emailed the group and offered their support while letters continue to flood into the paper championing the service.

People are repeatedly expressing their astonishment that the service, which runs from St Albans to London Victoria, is not better known and many point to the lack of marketing as the reason behind this. A large portion of the letters also call on Arriva to make alterations to sister services, the 757 and the 758, so that St Albans does not go without a bus route into London.

Matthew Jackson-Hale, who is the spokesperson behind the ‘Save the 712’ campaign said he’d been delighted with the response so far and bolstered by conversations he’d had with people when he and fellow campaigner, Kevin Gardem, took to the streets outside St Albans train station last Thursday to hand out their own leaflets.

They gave out 600 leaflets which emphasised the savings a rail user could make if they switched to the 712 Green Line service, and they have had many supporters distributing their flyers and leaflets throughout the city.

Their work promoting the service has been so successful that Kevin and Matthew were unable to get on to the 712 on Wednesday morning as the service was so full.

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Kevin said: “We joked about making this service so popular that every seat was full but it’s quite ironic that this has happened and the very people campaigning for the service haven’t been able to get a seat. It’s just marvellous to see it so popular.”

Matthew and Kevin will now go to Luton on Tuesday to meet with the managing director, Paul Adcock, and the head of operations at the company, Nick Knox, where the situation regarding the service will be discussed.

Although the news is positive and the campaigners are keen to be optimistic, Matthew admits he’s not building his hopes up just yet. “It’s great to have so much support and I’m really encouraged by Arriva’s invitation next week, but we’re keeping all options open and we know that other bus and coach companies are watching this campaign as it develops and we’re showing them that there’s a real need for a service like the 712 in the area.”

Arriva plans to cancel the 712 in January 2011 citing low passenger numbers as their reason for doing so. To join the ‘Save the 712’ campaign, email or join the Facebook group by searching in groups for the ‘Save the 712 Supporters Group’.