Frustrated Welham Green villagers rue lost bus

PUBLISHED: 12:04 02 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:04 02 February 2016

Local shop keeper Peter Wrighton and County Councillor Paul Zukowskyj at the bus stop in Welham Green where a regular bus service has been stopped

Local shop keeper Peter Wrighton and County Councillor Paul Zukowskyj at the bus stop in Welham Green where a regular bus service has been stopped

Archant

Villagers are concerned at the diversion of a bus route that no longer links them to shops and other city centre facilities.

The 304 bus stopped calling at Welham Green in early January, leaving villagers with no direct public transport to St Albans.

Borough councillor Keith Pieri told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that several villagers, including his 93-year-old neighbour, had complained to him about the withdrawal of the service.

He said: “People want a service to get to St Albans. Some people have their banks there, and St Albans has a lot of other facilities.

“There is a way to get to St Albans via Hatfield, but for elderly people that is not viable.”

Residents association chairman Peter Wrighton, who owns the Incidentals general store, said: “St Albans has many, many shops, and a lot of people like going

to St Albans Market.

“The bus stopped in Dellsome Lane, only about 100 yards from an old people’s home, so even people on Zimmer frames could use it to go shopping.

“Without it, they will just sit at home and vegetate.”

A villager who did not want to be named said: “St Albans is only four miles away, and I don’t want to shop in Hatfield.

“It as if Welham Green was in the Outer Hebrides.”

Bijel Mistry, operations manager for Centrebus, which operated the route, said: “A review of the service towards the end of 2015 indicated that passenger loadings between St Albans and Welham Green were low and unfortunately the revenue that we received from operating this section of the route was lower than the costs of operating it.

“We notified the council that we would be unable to operate this section of the route on a commercial basis and they worked with us to provide some funding to retain some journeys on the 305 service.

“We can only apologise to the residents of Welham Green for any inconvenience caused, however due to low patronage in this area, it is simply not commercially viable for us to retain the previous level of service in the area.”

“We will of course continue to work with the council to try to ensure that important bus links are maintained in a climate where government funding for bus operators is reducing.”

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