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Hertfordshire County Council

Over 1.5 million bus journeys are made in Hertfordshire every month. We want to make our buses more convenient, more reliable and easier to use.

We've already made a range of improvements to make travelling by bus more attractive, including more frequent services, lower fares and simplified ticketing.

We're now proposing to give buses greater priority in ways which improve bus journey times and make services more reliable. 

The consultation closes at the end of 17 March 2024.

 

Our proposals 

To improve bus journey times and make our bus services more reliable, we need to give our buses greater priority on the roads. By giving buses priority, more people can move more quickly on busy roads. 

We're proposing 5 bus priority projects across 3 towns / cities:

 

Hitchin

We're proposing:

  •  a new southbound bus lane along the A600 Bedford Road to improve bus journey times into Hitchin town centre
  •  a new northbound bus lane on Queen Street and upgrades to bus stops and new pedestrian crossings. 

See these Hitchin proposals on a map

 

St Albans 

We're proposing:

  • a new northbound bus lane along the A1081 London Road between Drakes Drive and Mile House Lane
  • a new southbound bus lane along the A1081 London Road towards London Colney roundabout.

The bus lanes would improve bus journey times along an important route into and out of St Albans city centre. 

See these St Albans proposals on a map

 

Stevenage

We're proposing:

  • to reorganise the bus stops at the Lister Hospital, and provide better access and facilities to support public transport, walking, wheeling and cycling.

See these Stevenage proposals on a map

 

Other improvements

We're introducing other improvements to make bus travel more convenient and attractive, including:

More about these additional bus service improvements

 

We're also reviewing walking and cycling improvements to further encourage fewer car journeys, particularly for shorter trips. We're taking into account other local walking and cycling projects to ensure our bus priority proposals integrate with them.

 

Background

In March 2021, the government announced their vision to dramatically improve bus services in England outside London. Bus Back Better, the National Bus Strategy for England, highlights the opportunity buses hold to improve transport for everyone. We're committed to achieving the strategy's ambition, with the aim to create a cleaner and greener county. 

Our Bus Service Improvement Plan supports the aims of our Local Transport Plan to improve conditions for bus passenger transport, as well as walking and cycling. These sustainable modes of transport have an important role in reducing traffic growth, reducing our impact on the environment, increasing our physical activity and improving the health of our communities.

In 2022, we were awarded £29.7 million to improve buses across Hertfordshire. Since then, we're taking steps to:

  • increase bus frequencies on popular routes
  • reduce fares
  • simplify ticketing
  • providing better information at bus shelters
  • offering more on-demand services via HertsLynx

To further this programme, we are now looking to enhance our public transport infrastructure by giving buses more priority on our roads. 

 

Our aims

As part of the Bus Service Improvement Plan, we set these aims:

  • increase passenger numbers from 25.5 million (2021-22) to 34.6 million (2025-26)
  • improve bus punctuality from 85% (2021-22) to 90% (2025-26)
  • improve passenger satisfaction from 66% (2021-22) to 90% (2025-26).

Why the improvements are needed

Making transport accessible for all

  • 1 in 6 households in Hertfordshire have no access to cars or vans (Census, 2021). This increases to 1 in 5 households in Stevenage. 
  • Older generations, younger people and households on low incomes are more dependent on walking, cycling and public transport to access jobs, healthcare, education, local services and visit family and friends.

 

Supporting sustainable growth

  • Hertfordshire has a population of over 1.2 million (Census, 2021). It is predicted that the population of Hertfordshire will increase by 21% before 2039. This will increase the demand for travel and pressure on the road network.
  • Congestion is already an issue in many towns across Hertfordshire. This is only expected to increase as the population grows. An average bus in Hertfordshire holds approximately 35 people, which means a full bus can remove 35 single-passenger cars from the road during a commute. A handful of full buses running every 15 minutes along one route can take up to 140 cars off the road each hour.

 

Protecting our environment

  • Only 3% of people use the bus to travel in Hertfordshire. 
  • We need to encourage more people to choose more sustainable modes, including bus, walking and cycling. This will help reduce emissions and help us achieve ‘Clean air for all by 2030’ and ‘Net Zero GHG County by 2050’ (Hertfordshire Sustainability Strategy).

Developing the bus priority proposals

We completed a study to identify locations across Hertfordshire that would benefit most from new bus priority measures.

We looked at data such as bus route delays, traffic queues and number of accidents. We also considered other planned schemes nearby, including how the proposals would connect with local walking and cycling improvements. 

Over 100 options were developed against a range of criteria to understand how they might:

  • increase bus passenger numbers
  • reduce bus journey times
  • improve bus journey reliability
  • improve perceived safety for all road users
  • reduce carbon contribution
  • improve bus service and facilities
  • impact on general traffic.

 

The long list of options was narrowed down by a further round of analysis considering:

  • feasibility – could the option be built within the space available in the area?
  • affordability – could the option be delivered within the funding available?
  • deliverability – could the option be delivered by March 2025 when the available funding needs to be used by?

 

Following further discussions with key stakeholders, including local elected representatives and district and borough councils, 5 schemes have been proposed.

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