End of the line for St Albans bus service campaigners?
THE CAMPAIGN to save a threatened Green Line service may have reached the end of the road as Arriva, the company which runs the 712 bus, has insisted the service will still end in January.
Letters and emails have continued to pour into the Herts Advertiser praising the service and recommending alternative routes and schedules to ensure the service achieves its potential.
Many passengers have called on Arriva to at least consider rescheduling their other Green Line services to take in St Albans so that those who have supported the 712 can benefit from the service.
Another commuter is planning to create his own leaflets highlighting the savings that could be made by using the 712 and hand them out to fellow commuters heading to the station.
But despite the support it has from its loyal customers, Arriva says the 712 service, which runs from St Albans to London Victoria, cannot be saved because it is failing to cover even 50 per cent of its running costs.
Lib Dem Councillor, Jack Pia, who is a regular user of the service, said he was disappointed by the news but has been persuaded, after speaking with Arriva, that the service was no longer commercially viable.
He said: “Many people will be directly affected by it, and it’s frustrating, but I’m not surprised. When the service launched there was a rumour that it would be in place on a one year deal - I imagine this was to determine if it was needed.”
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A spokesperson for Arriva has said that the company knew it would take time to build up a good, sound customer base and that the reason the service was launched in June 2008 was so that when train commuters came to renew their season tickets in January 2009, there would be an established and reliable service that could be an alternative to the train.
She went on: “This was not the case and even when the trains were on restricted timetables there was still no significant increase in passenger numbers. We always knew it would be hard to compete with the train on timings but as many of you have said, the fact that you get a seat, arrive relaxed and ready for the day ahead and could save a lot of money, we thought would be enough to sway some commuters to use or even try the service.
“The number of customers using the service for leisure purposes has been steady but regrettably it is still not enough to sustain the current level of service and we understand the disappointment of those who have taken advantage of the service for visiting London for shopping, going to the theatre or just going for a great value trip to London.
“Over time, it was hoped that we could increase the level of service for both commuters and leisure travellers, maybe to reflect the levels of services on the more established Green Line services from Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage, however the service is still running at a significant loss, not even covering 50 per cent of its operating costs and therefore in these challenging financial times it is not viable for us to maintain the support for the service commercially.”
She added: “If in the future there is an opportunity for us to try again, we will. We will also continue to work with Butterfly World as that becomes major tourist attraction for the area.
“We would like to pass on our sincere thank you to all our customers over the last 18 months, and to those who have supported the service and we are sorry that we are unable to continue to offer this great service.”