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HERT: ‘Overwhelming’ public support for new Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit system

Plans for a new west-to-east public transport system called HERT – Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit – have won "overwhelming support" from residents.

Nearly 2,000 people responded to Herts County Council's public consultation and 75% backed the plans for an environmentally-friendly passenger transport network from Watford to Harlow and onwards to Stansted Airport.

The authority agreed in October 2019 to develop a detailed proposal for HERT to run along the A414 corridor and has since been working with district and borough councils and key stakeholders.

After 10 weeks of public engagement – including a virtual exhibition space, webpage, animated film and online events to share information about the proposals – 75,000 people visited the website and 1,700 viewed the exhibition.

The full results of the public engagement and consultation showed a combined 68% of respondents said they would be likely to use HERT once completed.

Backing was strongest among young people, with 90% of 18- to 24-year-olds supporting or strongly supporting the vision, despite being under-represented in overall responses.

Artist's impression of HERT system
Artist's impression of HERT system

When asked what features respondents would like to see on HERT, the two priorities were reliable journey times and service frequency.

Cllr Phil Bibby, HCC’s executive member for highways and transport, said: "After extensive engagement with the public, the appetite for improved west-to-east public transport links could not be clearer. We will now take these views forward as we seek to engage with funding partners, including the Department for Transport.

“We are committed to the HERT’s ambitious vision to deliver a step-change in the passenger transport network across the whole of Hertfordshire, West Essex and beyond.”

Attracting funding from local and central government and the private sector will be critical to further progress.

Cllr Phil Bibby
Cllr Phil Bibby

The goal is to provide zero-emission vehicles that are easy and accessible to use. However, details of how HERT will operate, its exact route and the type of vehicles it will use will be explored through detailed technical studies and further public engagement.

Currently, the proposed HERT corridor will be split into three sections:

The main east-west section will serve the main settlements between Hemel Hempstead and the new Gilston Garden Town. It will also improve connections to Luton Airport via an interchange in St Albans.

A Gilston to Harlow route will provide improved onward connections to Stansted Airport.

A north-south section will operate between St Albans and Watford.

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