Hertfordshire County Council has started public engagement for its proposed Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit (HERT).
The HERT aims to deliver a step-change in the passenger transport network through an accessible, reliable and affordable mass transit system, connecting Watford and Hemel Hempstead in the west to Harlow (west Essex) in the east.
The HERT will connect people easily to where they live, work and visit and will support economic growth, improve the environment and positively impact existing and new communities.
Hertfordshire already experiences significant traffic congestion and poor journey time reliability due to the reliance on cars. Over the next 15 years, there are plans for around 100,000 new jobs and up to 100,000 new homes across the county to meet local needs, which means there will be further demand on the already congested road and rail network.
The HERT will provide a new and sustainable cross-county transport system that encourages people out of their cars and on to a greener, convenient and more affordable public transport service.
A key feature of the HERT will be the creation of better links with bus services, walking and cycling routes, creating an integrated transport network with better access to the rail network and wider links to domestic and international airline travel at Luton and Stansted airports. It will also unlock new job opportunities and provide businesses with greater access to skilled people in the county and beyond. Hertfordshire County Council and Essex County Council will work closely together to ensure rapid and seamless journeys can be made across the entire network.
This is the first phase of public engagement on the scheme and the council is inviting feedback on its vision for HERT. A virtual exhibition will be available where participants can find out more about the scheme, attend one of the online exhibition events and share their views by completing the online survey.
Richard Roberts, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council and Chair of the Hertfordshire Growth Board, said: “Creating a cleaner, greener, healthier Hertfordshire, where everyone has the opportunity to live and work in thriving communities, is central to our plans for the future of the county.
“To deliver this vision for Hertfordshire, we must have the transport network to support it; an affordable, sustainable network that will help reduce our carbon footprint by encouraging people out of their cars and connect our communities like never before.
“To make our ambition a success, it first and foremost must meet the needs of the people of Hertfordshire, which is why I would encourage all residents to take part in the consultation to help shape the development of HERT.”
Phil Bibby, Executive Member for Highways and Transport at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The County Council’s A414 Corridor Strategy highlighted the transport-related challenges impacting our communities and the environment, particularly the increasing traffic congestion.
“The HERT will deliver a modern, accessible transport system that offers a viable alternative to car travel, bringing lasting benefits to Hertfordshire, Essex and beyond.
“This is an exciting, pioneering project that could effect real change in the future and I encourage everyone to explore the virtual exhibition and complete the online survey.”
Lesley Wagland OBE, Cabinet Member for Economic Renewal, Infrastructure and Planning at Essex County Council, said: “Economic growth and new housing must be supported by sustainable transport of good quality that provides fast, frequent and reliable connections to key locations and opportunities.
“Together, the benefits of an integrated rapid transit network in Hertfordshire, into Harlow, and perhaps even further to locations such as Stansted Airport, could be huge.
“The HERT is at an early stage but now is the time to start thinking how this scheme can support our vision of inclusive and sustainable economic growth.”