Loss of bus leaves riders fuming and exhausted

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THE cancellation of a 27-year-old bus service to London has left its passengers “distraught”.

The 773 route runs between Aylesbury and London, stopping at Aston Clinton, Tring, Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead.

It costs £1,584 from Hemel Hempstead and £1,874 from the other stops and for an annual ticket.

But just a few days after customers began renewing them this year, service-operators Marshalls Coach Services told them it would be cancelled from February 7.

There are between 17 to 20 bus riders, which takes around 40 minutes longer than a train, everyday.

The Gazette reported this month that the price of an annual train ticket to London from Hemel Hempstead has gone from £2,912 to £3,024.

The price for Tring commuters rose £132 to £3,408 and £124 to £3,176 for those in Berkhamsted.

Jo Kaye, who is leading a campaign to save the service, said: “We all feel very distraught at the way we have been treated by Marshalls. They had no respect for the people using the 773.

She said many passengers would struggle to afford train tickets.

Robert Bax, aged 43, from Egerton Road, Berkhamsted, said: “It will cost me £190 extra by train and I can’t afford it.

“I have got two young children to look after.”

Jason Arbiter, 41, from Tring, said: “They should have told us before Christmas, so we could have cashed in on a cheaper train ticket and made a bit of a saving.

“We were just dumped without any help at all.”

Service 773 chief Dean Marshall said it had been running at a loss for about 12 months because not enough people used it.

Jo said she had offered to leaflet and set up a Facebook group to promote the service.

But Dean said advertising would cost the firm thousands.

He said: “We do appreciate that, but that’s something we would need to do ourselves – we can’t expect the commuters to do that.

“It takes more than just going out and handing people leaflets.”

A Marshalls employee told Beth that 56 days notice was required to cancel a bus route – but partner Dean Marshall later said this was a mistake.

Jo said she’d been told the service was cancelled because of too many complaints – something Dean denies.

But, Jo says, this was later changed to ‘too few customers’ when she phoned and pretended to be a journalist.

Jo said: “They tell you something different every time you phone.”

But Dean said: “We have always been very transparent with the passengers.

“You have got Chinese whispers. One passenger says one thing to another and you do not know where these things come from.

“The 773 just was not making money and was not economically viable to run anymore. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with complaints.”

He said he has been speaking to another operator to see if it will continue the service.

Jo has been in talks with Arriva, who say they may continue the service temporarily.

Prices could start at £1,525 for an annual season ticket.