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‘Missing link’ 84B bus launches after 17 months without service

Passengers can travel by bus between Potters Bar and Barnet – after 17 months without a connection.

Campaigners, Hertsmere Borough Council leaders and Theresa Villiers MP gathered in Potters Bar to launch the new 84B service on Monday, September 4.

The new route plugs a gap that the 84 bus to St Albans used to cover until it was shortened in April 2022 to become a Hertfordshire-only service.

After a letter signed by more than 900 campaigners, Hertsmere Borough Council has agreed to spend £183,600 on the new connection, using cash from a charge on development known as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

“We know people in Potters Bar rely on this link, not just for health provision to get to Barnet General Hospital, not just for the many many children who are having to endure ridiculously long journeys to school just across the boundary, but because our communities are linked,” Hertsmere Borough Council leader Cllr Jeremy Newmark (Lab, Borehamwood Cowley Hill) said.

‘Missing link’ 84B bus launches after 17 months without service Harrow Online
Cutting the cake to mark the launch of the 84B Potters Bar to Barnet bus

“Hertsmere and London are intrinsically linked. Families are linked. Communities are linked. This will bring people back together.”

The 84B crosses the Hertfordshire and Greater London boundary.

“It’s true that we’re not a transport authority but it’s equally true that we have a general duty of wellbeing towards local people,” Cllr Newmark added.

“People have always envisaged CIL funding as about building large pieces of infrastructure.

“We believe that sustainable transport is critical infrastructure which is why we want to be at the vanguard of applying those CIL funds to bus transport.

“We’re not prepared to sit back and allow bureaucracy and pigeonholing of local government responsibilities to negatively impact people’s lives.

“It’s true that we don’t have the funds to sustain this route indefinitely into the future but we did have the funds to pump-prime it, to get it going and to resolve the logjam between the London and Hertfordshire transport authorities.

“We’ve done what we can do as a borough council and we will be working hard to ensure the transport authorities come to the table and do their bit to sustain this into the future.”

Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet Theresa Villiers said: “This is such an important route and many of my constituents were really upset when it was cancelled.”

Ms Villiers added: “It’s really brilliant to have this 84B service to bring back that Barnet to Potters Bar connection.

“I’ve been part of this successful cross-party campaign to bring back the 84 service across Hertfordshire and Greater London, and it’s brilliant to see it in operation today.

“This is a reminder of how important bus services are to keeping people connected.

‘Missing link’ 84B bus launches after 17 months without service Harrow Online
Councillor Jeremy Newmark, Hertsmere Borough Council leader, with the new 84B bus

“This bus connects hospitals, schools and families, and there was a real gap when it was discontinued, and the important thing to do now is to secure its long-term future.”

When operators cut back the 84 route, Potters Bar Community Hospital and the village of Hadley Highstone were left without any public bus routes.

The new service calls at both destinations on weekdays and Saturdays, and serves Potters Bar’s Thameslink station, The Spires shopping centre, High Barnet London Underground station and Barnet General Hospital.

Jenny Remfry, The Barnet Society vice president, arrived at the 84B launch by bus.

“It was a great moment,” Ms Remfry said. “We’ve been without a bus for some time and it’s been very annoying – to be living in Barnet, not to be able to get to Potters Bar which is only three miles away.

“There was no way of getting here apart from via a circuitous route involving National Rail.

“At last, we’ll be able to come here, call in at the Moorfields Eye Hospital unit at Potters Bar Community Hospital, and Potters Bar passengers will be able to come to Barnet General Hospital and connect with the tube line. It’s all good news.”

David Martin, of Stevenage Bus Users Group (SBUG), also attended the launch.

He said: “It’s an extremely important service for communities on the edge of Hertfordshire and certainly the edge of London – to get to schools and hospitals.

“We have to encourage local authorities to work together. Where you’ve got towns next to one another in different counties, such as Hitchin and Shefford or Potters Bar and Barnet, ward councillors need to voice the concerns of local residents to get services improved.

“Unfortunately, we’ve got operators withdrawing services when they claim they are not commercially viable.

“I think there is a downward spiral – when they don’t or can’t run a service, it puts passengers off trying to use the service, so we end up going the wrong way.

“The approach with the Stevenage New Town was ‘build it and they will come’ and it’s the same with buses – they will take passengers provided buses are there and reliable.”