Potters Bar woman losing her eyesight 'cannot continue living in her home' without Barnet bus link – Herts Live

Sallie Rose will have to give up her car, and without a Potters Bar-Barnet bus connection, she is thinking of selling her home
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Without a miracle cure, Sallie Rose is going to lose her eyesight. She bought her house to the north of Potters Bar almost four years ago and thought that – when the time came to give up her car – she could rely on the 84 bus to see her daughter and grandchildren in Hadley Highstone, Barnet.
But Sallie’s plans changed on April 1 last year when Metroline decided to shut down the service – which was launched 111 years ago in 1912. Hertfordshire County Council stepped in to save the route between St Albans and Potters Bar, but there’s a missing link southbound – which leaves a hospital and a Greater London street without any bus services.
Without a bus to Barnet, Sallie fears having to sell her home to be near the London Underground, hospitals and her family. “They’ve turned a 20-minute bus journey into a two-hour one,” Sallie said. “I have a degenerative eye condition, so when I bought my house I knew I was going to be losing my eyesight. Having the 84 in Potters Bar, I knew I could get to my daughter in Hadley Highstone.
READ MORE: Hertfordshire County Council and TfL not taking 'lifeline' bus route cut 'seriously enough', MP warns
“But withdrawing the route to Barnet means I cannot carry on living in my home. I won't be able to drive much longer. It's at least £20 for a cab to Barnet, so if I want to see my daughter and granddaughter or travel into Greater London, it's about £40 per journey.”
Sallie added: “I got involved with this campaign because it affects people in my situation – as well as people who want to attend Moorfields Eye Hospital at Potters Bar Community Hospital, which has been left without a bus connection.
“People going to hospital might not be very well – they might have only had eye drops or minor procedures, but they still might not be able to drive themselves home. But I've spoken to lots of shop owners who fear a drop in customers over time. Transport for London wants us to cut down on car use, which is fine, but where are the alternatives?”
Sallie is not alone in the campaign. A letter featuring 904 signatures has been sent to transport and local authority leaders in Hertfordshire and Greater London today (Friday, January 13) in a bid to plug the missing link. It reads: “We are writing to urge TfL and Hertfordshire County Council to work together to re-establish a bus route between Potters Bar and Barnet as a matter of urgency.”
The letter notes that the Potters Bar Community Hospital bus stop, which features a Moorfields Eye Hospital satellite centre and a mental health centre in its campus, is not served by any passenger route. “Children [are] unable to get to and from school or college, or are having very long and dangerous journeys there and back in the dark,” it adds. “Barnet College has a particularly high number of students and a large catchment area that includes Potters Bar.”
The added Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion, due on August 29, 2023, will mean drivers of the most polluting vehicles will need to pay to travel to High Barnet London Underground station and Barnet Hospital. “This shifts responsibility towards TfL to provide this vital link,” the letter reads. “We understand the Mayor of London has committed to providing ‘genuine alternatives’ to the car when making journeys to the edge of London to encourage modal shift to buses. Reinstating a route between Potters Bar and Barnet, via Hadley Highstone, should be a high priority in this regard.”
A TfL spokesperson said its 399 route continues to connect Barnet and Hadley Highstone, while a combination of the 298 and 313 buses links Potters Bar with the north London town. “Given our current financial situation, which because of the pandemic has meant a reliance on government operational funding, we were not in a position to take on the costs of the route,” they said. “We will continue to keep travel patterns and demand under review and the flexible nature of the bus network means it can make frequency adaptations at relatively short notice to reflect changing demand where required.”
Councillor Phil Bibby (Con, St Nicholas), who is responsible for transport at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The 84 was a commercial route, surrendered by Metroline as they said it was not profitable, and Hertfordshire County Council had nothing to do with this decision, nor did it have any influence over the operator.
“However, as soon as we were informed, we negotiated with another operator, Sullivans, and managed to secure services covering the Hertfordshire end of the route, although we are now paying in excess of £60k per annum of taxpayers money to make this sustainable.” Both TfL and Hertfordshire County Council confirmed they run door-to-door dial-a-ride schemes for people with visual impairments.
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