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Labour demands return of full bus service to Meriden
Save Bus route 324’ Campaign Organiser John Dowdle has welcomed the introduction of an emergency replacement bus service from 1st October following Arriva’s decision to scrap the 324, but he has called for a full replacement service, including a direct route to the hospital, when the temporary arrangement ends in March 2019. Download new bus timetables here
The Labour Petition to save the 324 bus service, which was signed by over 1,500 local residents, was presented to the Herts County Council (HCC) on 19th September.
John Dowdle addressed the full transport panel of the Council, calling on County Councillors to act immediately to guarantee bus services from Meriden into the town centre.
Following earlier talks between John Dowdle, Labour Councillor Asif Khan and Hertfordshire’s Transport Supremo Derrick Ashley, the County promised to come up with a replacement.
HCC is providing a 6-month temporary contract for a W1 service and a W2 service They have not approved a new Sunday service or evening buses.
John Dowdle said, “The Council have obviously responded to pressure from residents and our petition. The short notice given by Arriva of scrapping the 324 has meant that an emergency service is being introduced to fill a short-term gap.”
“This is a markedly inferior service to the 324. Meriden has lost other bus services in recent times, so we are seeing a downward spiral. I am dubious about two operators running the replacement service. I want to see a full service resumed and improved as soon as possible."
COUNTY COUNCIL TO REPLACE 324 BUS SERVICE Resident's petition and campaigning pays off
Save Bus route 324 campaign organiser, John Dowdle and Labour's North Watford County Councillor Asif Khan met County Councillor Derrick Ashley, Herts County Council Transport portfolio holder on Wednesday 22nd August at County Hall in Hertford. (photo)
During the meeting to discuss the way forward, it was revealed that the County County will put on a service to replace the 324 albeit the details of service have still got to be worked out.
Campaigner John Dowdle said "it was a constructive meeting, where the importance of the 324 bus service particularly for Meriden residents was relayed. It is a lifeline for many people to get to town, schools and the hopsital. I'm pleased that residents will get some sort of bus service, but I'm still campaigning to ensure that it is a good reliable service. "
Asif Khan, Labour's transport spokesman said, "The County Council recognised the significance of having a bus service. Money needs to be found to fund the route. I'm calling on Watford Council, to see if it too can help part-fund the service. Residents were disgusted that the 324 was being cut. It is vital that this route is preserved."
John Dowdle said, "Over 1,500 residents have now signed our petition calling on the Council to re-provide the bus service and subsidise it if necessary. It's important we keep up the pressure so if you haven't yet signed you can do so on this page.
Labour acts to save vital Meriden bus service - sign the petition
Labour has moved quickly to save the vital 324 bus service that links Meriden and Garston with Watford Town Centre and the Hospital. Arriva have decided to axe the service from the end of September leaving residents who use the route angry and isolated.
Watford County Councillor Nigel Bell and Meriden Labour Team Leader John Dowdle have met Arriva managers 31st July in a bid to persuade them to continue the service or at least give longer notice so an alternative can be arranged. Arriva are claiming the service is not commercially viable as fewer people are using it.
Councillor Nigel Bell said, “I condemn this unilateral decision by Arriva to scrap this bus service. They took on the obligation to run this bus route and they should not simply walk away from it because it doesn’t make enough profit. This is a public service that people rely on.
“We have met Arriva bosses to try and persuade them to reverse their decision, but we also met Herts Council Officers and have called on the County to appoint another bus operator to run the service from the end of September and to provide a subsidy if necessary. Profit cannot be the sole criteria for running bus services. Following this meeting I am cautiously optimistic that we may save the route.”
Meriden Labour Team Leader John Dowdle said, “I have spoken to many residents who are understandably angry and distraught over this decision to scrap a service they rely upon. They have my support and I will fight to save this bus service.
“This situation has happened because the Tory Government privatised bus services and allowed operators to walk away from providing services with just 42 days’ notice. This cannot be right. Buses are an important public service that should be run for people not profit.”