The decision to axe a bus route between the town and London has been described as a ‘gut-wrench’ by dismayed residents.
Arriva Buses recently announced the 758 route between London Victoria and Hemel Hempstead would be scrapped due to dwindling passenger numbers.
Linsey Frostick, general manager at the Luton depot said: “Unfortunately over recent weeks we have not seen a rise in passenger numbers and at the current levels the service is not sustainable.
“We would like to thank all our loyal and long serving customers for their custom over the years and want to convey this is an extremely difficult decision to make.”
The route’s customers are deeply unhappy with the news. Danielle McCarroll, a primary school teacher who uses the bus line to get to her job in Cricklewood, said:
“I appreciate passenger numbers have declined over Covid, but they still have a large number of people relying on the 758 to get into work every day.”
She added: “Hemel prides itself, among many other things, on being an attractive and affordable option for professionals commuting into London.
“With the train neither an affordable or within-reach option for many, can the town really boast of such transport links now, especially with so many new builds situated on the Greenline route?”
Many elderly residents of the town spoke of how difficult it would be to get into London without the route. Hemel resident Lisa Brunt said “It’s a real shame and a loss to the community.
“My dad, who is disabled, relies on this service for hospital appointments he has at specialist hospitals in London. I wonder now how he will manage.”
Another resident, Hazel Richardson also spoke of how the Green Line had been a real help during a point in her life when she needed monthly appointments in hospital.
“I don’t manage well with busy environments and get exhausted easily.
“The Green Line was perfect for me as I could just sit on the seat and look out of the window without having people close to me or be in a noisy place.
“A train for me epically during rush hour would be a nightmare and would make me stressed out before even getting to an appointment.”
“It was nice to have a service that was useable for when I needed it, with friendly drivers who were great and ran the service to a high standard.”
Dan Luckett, who uses the 758 to commute into Central London for his job, said:
“Removing this service will increase the cost of travel for customers, likely shift more people to using fossil fuel, and reduce mobility for those who cannot or would prefer not to take the train, particularly for those more vulnerable groups of society.
“It’s totally against what transport should be about.”
Some long-standing travellers simply expressed their sadness at the route’s closure. Resident Julian Ward said, “For people who have used it for years, decades even, to commute it’s a complete gut wrench.”
County Councillor for Hemel Town Division Adrian England commented:
“The announcement from Arriva was rather unexpected and was a catalyst for a meeting with Arriva last week to better understand the situation.
“It is clear from the passenger figures that the route is performing very poorly. This service is outside the scope of Council support as it is not deemed a local bus service.”
The service will have its last day of operation on December 4.
Picture credit AJ Price