Arriva Bus has explained why it is making “extensive” changes to Watford’s timetables after the move sparked confusion.

From November 19, multiple routes will be completely cut while new ones will be introduced, prompting fears of longer bus-stop waits, despite the company claiming the changes should boost punctuality and reliability.

Passengers in and around Watford, particularly in Rickmansworth, Abbots Langley, and South Oxhey, that saw their usual route set to disappear raised concerns that they may struggle to get around and older people may “lose their independence”.

The 321 bus ending before Rickmansworth caused worry, with locals raising concerns over elderly or vulnerable people in Maple Cross and the Berry Lane estate.

Arriva highlighted that the 322, which will operate every 20 minutes as the 321 did, is taking over that stretch and confirmed it will be using the same route between Maple Cross/Berry Lane and Watford before continuing to Hemel Hempstead.

Watford Observer: Watford bus stopWatford bus stop (Image: Watford Borough Council)The benefits, it said, are that it will open a direct link between Rickmansworth and Hemel Hempstead and connect Hemel Hempstead to Watford General Hospital. It is also a shorter route “to boost reliability”.

Replacing the 10/20 service with a number 20 service only, operating every 20 minutes from Holywell to Hemel Hempstead via Watford and Leavesden, is being done to provide “a more frequent link between Watford and Maylands in Hemel where a large number of people work”, a spokesperson said.

For South Oxhey, the half-hourly 508 is being replaced with a half-hourly 328 operating as far as Watford, before continuing hourly to Abbots Langley. The 328 also partly replaces the 10, which also linked Watford and Abbots Langley but was more regular and ran on Sundays, while the 328 runs hourly between Watford and Mount Vernon Hospital only on Sundays.

The full 508 route was Hemel Hempstead to Mount Vernon Hospital and the 328 is Abbots Langley to Mount Vernon Hospital. Arriva explained it is rejoining South Oxhey to North Watford and Abbots Langley in response to customer feedback.

Watford Observer: 321 bus321 bus (Image: Arriva)

Arriva South commercial head, Michael Jennings, said: “Passengers will see that Arriva has scheduled better connections to meet their changing needs, particularly with regards to hospital links and in response to people’s changing work habits.

“We do appreciate that the changes are extensive and we will therefore be doing the best we can to explain the detail to our customers."