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East Herts Council to investigate on-demand bus service for the district

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Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Wilson is driving for Bishop's Stortford to get on board with an on-demand bus service in East Herts.

He tabled a motion at a meeting of the full East Herts Council last Wednesday (Oct 23) asking the Conservative administration to recognise that such a scheme for the district would benefit residents, the economy and the environment.

"The relative paucity of public transport negatively affects the air quality in the district and also contributes to the failure to produce a modal shift," said Cllr Wilson. "Moreover, it disproportionately disadvantages the more elderly, the disabled and rural and poorer members of our society."

Chris Wilson is one of three Liberal Democrat councillors who serve the All Saints ward in Bishop's Stortford on East Herts Council (20149318)
Chris Wilson is one of three Liberal Democrat councillors who serve the All Saints ward in Bishop's Stortford on East Herts Council (20149318)

He explained: "In some other local authority areas, public transport has been greatly improved by setting up an 'on-demand service', mainly using an app on people's mobile phones."

A similar dial-a-ride service is being trialled in Watford. Cllr Wilson said such schemes were "not limited by a fixed route or a fixed timetable like traditional buses".

He said that in Oxford, the pick-up service had 22,000 users who were on board within 15 minutes for journeys typically costing no more than £3.

"I'm not suggesting it's without costs and potential pitfalls, but I'm suggesting it's worth a look," said Cllr Wilson.

He said it could be the future of rural and urban public transport: "This could be the Uber of East Herts."

Cllr Graham McAndrew, EHC's Conservative executive member for environmental sustainability, said that the Shaping Stortford steering group was looking at public transport provision for the town in detail and working with Herts County Council. That authority is working with operators to create an enhanced Intalink partnership for the bus network.

Key proposals now out for public consultation include giving buses priority on congested roads and measures such as:

  • Prioritising bus and coach services in traffic
  • Improving the image of bus travel
  • Upgrading bus infrastructure
  • More closely integrating the bus network
  • Making smarter use of data and information.

The county council is also considering a new high-speed, east-to-west public transport system with a Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) system to run along the A414 corridor.

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