In a sign of the reduced levels of commuter travel, the South East coach operator gave notice of the withdrawal of services at short notice before Christmas
National Express-owned Kings Ferry, part of the National Express Transport Solutions division, announced to its London commuter customers at short notice on 16 December 2021 that all Kent and Medway commuter coach services were to end on Christmas Eve.
The long-standing commuter services pre-dates the company’s acquisition by National Express, having operated for nearly 40 years. Ian Fraser, Managing Director for the South East Region, wrote on the company’s website and Kings Ferry Commuter app: “It is with much regret that I have to inform you The Kings Ferry commuter service will cease operating on Friday 24 December.
“This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make and has not been taken lightly. The ongoing challenges created by Covid-19 have reduced demand to such an extent that means our services are not commercially viable and unlikely to become so in the near future.
“There are no current plans to reinstate the service however we will continue to monitor travel patterns and if circumstances change in the future we will look at ways to reintroduce our commuter services.
“I would like to thank all our customers past and present for their support over the last almost 40 years, it has been a pleasure transporting you to and from London on a daily basis.”
A commuter who uses the commuter service contacted Kent Online following the news of the networks withdrawal said: “I was getting the high speed rail link which was costing about £6,000. It’s £20 return on the coach compared to £50 peak travelling on the train, that’s a massive burden financially.”
“Kent’s major coach commuter network has gone with just over a week to go. I have heard of some people saying they might have to leave their jobs in London because they can’t afford to get to work.”
The commuter network operated from Medway (717/19/20/22/65), Swale (750/1), Maidstone (774) and New Ash Green (770). Kings Ferry also operated Fast Track park & ride services from Bluebell Hill, Tollgate Cyclopark and Wigmore.
Kings Ferry’s move follows the withdrawal of Arriva-owned Green Line service 758 from Hemel Hempstead to London on 4 December. Arriva also cited low passenger numbers as the reason for the service withdrawal.