The County Council has approved plans to improve Hertfordshire’s bus network with an enhanced partnership with bus companies to make public transport more efficient and attractive.
Measures included in the plans are: prioritising bus services in traffic, improving the image of bus travel by raising standards and taking a consistent branding approach, upgrading bus infrastructure, closer integration of the bus network, and making smarter use of data and information.
The council has chosen not to implement a franchising system because it would impose unacceptable risks and costs on the authority. Such a system would have allowed bus services to be provided in the same way as they are in London. Franchising would allowed the council to plan, develop and regulate bus services, offering simpler, integrated Oyster-style ticketing and guarantees on service quality. However, this would have required consent from the government along with secondary legislation.
Derrick Ashley, Cabinet Member for Growth, Infrastructure, Planning and the Economy, said: "These plans will help to make sure that bus travel is an attractive and practical option for people trying to get around our county. Many people will still rely on their car for essential journeys but where there are alternatives we want to encourage people to leave their cars behind.
"With 100,000 new homes expected in the county by 2031 we need to make sure we have the infrastructure, including an effective bus network, in place to help us cope with that growth. We need to get people out of their cars if we want to keep the county moving and our economy thriving. That’s why we’re making improvements to walking, cycling and public transport a priority in all our transport plans."
The new Enhanced Partnership will build on the work done by the existing Intalink Partnership - a collaboration between local councils and transport operators. It has been established in Hertfordshire for over 20 years. The partnership has been successful in improving the experience for bus passengers and in delivering a range of publicity and information, digital communications including a website, mobile ticket app and multi-operator ticketing schemes.
The council have also announce additional transport improvements include joining The Cole Green Way Cycle Route 61 to Hertford North railway station and the town centre at a cost of up to £5m, and improvements to Hertford bus station at a cost of up to £2.5.
The County Council are also in the early stages of developing an East-West Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT). This would be a fast and frequienty service using purpose-built on-road vehicles running on a mixture of dedicated new routes and repurposed existing highway.
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