Herts County Council plan bus cuts

Image: Flickr – Sludge G

[April Wilson | Contributing Writer]

From September 2015 the Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) announced that it will be cutting down on services in the North Hertfordshire area. These subsidised services then will no longer run after 7:30pm and on Sundays they will not run at all, except for services that go directly to hospitals, which will run till 7:30pm. Some services have been withdrawn completely.

63 services have been affected, for a full list of services affected please see: hertsdirect.org/services/transtreets/pubtrans/subsidyjul15/

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The 602 – one of the buses affected by the HCC cuts | Image: Flickr – Martin Addison

The cuts have been expected to affect 2 per cent of passengers, but with a large portion of commuting students, these changes are a concern for the University.

The HCC usually subsidise 11 per cent of services to fill the gaps in the network, but the HCC recently came to the decision that it needed to cut funding for HCC bus services by £1.471 million.

By cutting these services, HCC intends to save £858k from September 2015 rising to £1.471m in the financial year 2016/17. When asked what would happen if the figure is not met, the HCC said:

“To date there are no further service changes planned.”

Many people have said that these cuts have affected them personally, specifically those who take the 306 to Watford.

Steve Simmons (commercial manager of Sullivan buses) said, when speaking to the Borehamwood Times, “We have had a number of passengers who have told us they will have to give up their jobs as a result of the Sunday and evening services.”

How then, do these cuts actually affect the students of Hertfordshire?

Student, Oliver Price, who uses the 622 bus from Watford to commute to the University, commented on how the bus cuts would affect him. He stated:

“The 622, which goes from Watford to Hatfield and back, has been cut so that the very last 622 to Watford leaves The Forum as early as 6:20pm. This means I can’t stay out late to work at the LRC or go to the EleHouse or Forum unless I get a lift off my dad as I can’t drive.”

Are all the members of the HCC in agreement about the cuts then? The answer is no, as there are many varying opinions among the members of the HCC about the bus cuts and reactions are very mixed.

Stephen-Giles Medhurst (Liberal Democrat) had a lot to say*:

“The Conservatives voted by 42 votes to 30 to push through the bus cuts, despite condemnation by the NHS Trusts, bus operators and the public.
NHS Trusts said clearly that the 7.30pm cut off time was wrong and asked
the County Council to maintain routes servicing hospitals until regular
visiting times had finished. This has been totally ignored and the
Tories had not even bothered to find out how many passenger trips would be affected. Well it’s over 700,000!

“Quite frankly, this is a black day for the County Council and a black day for public transport.

“In the period of 5 years the Tories at County Hall have now cut the
supported bus budget from £7.1m to £2.4m … one that will clearly affect the most vulnerable in society, the elderly and the poor.”

Whereas, Derrick Asley (Conservative), an executive member of the Environment, Planning and Transport Council had this to say:

“I doubt whether the recent reductions in bus services have had much effect on student travel. The vast majority of services in Hertfordshire are provided commercially and require no subsidy meaning that 98 per cent of all journeys in Hertfordshire are on commercial services. We have decided not to continue to subsidise services on a Sunday or during the evening so we can continue to support essential daytime links particularly in the rural areas. However, many of the key corridors do still retain evening and Sunday services provided by the commercial operators as they are reasonably well used.”

There is then a very mixed bag of reactions to the recent bus cuts, ranging from utter outrage to a belief that the new cuts are necessary.

What is your opinion? Have the recent bus cuts affected your travel to and from the University? Tweet us at @TridentMediaUK

* The following quotations have been shortened for use within this article.

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Herts County Council plan bus cuts