Amsterdam, Rotterdam public transport could be slashed by 30 percent
If the Cabinet does not also come up with money for public transport for next year, the bus, tram, metro and train will run "much less," warned the provinces and the transport regions of Amsterdam and Rotterdam-The Hague.
On Thursday, the Cabinet reported that carriers can still claim compensation from the government throughout the year to absorb the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. This support was supposed to end in September, but has now been extended to the end of the year. However, no additional money has been earmarked for 2023.
But according to the provinces and transport regions, such funds are necessary to maintain public transport. They report that the number of public transport travelers is increasing again, but "ticket sales are not expected to return to the old level until 2025." No extra money for next year could lead to 20 to 30 percent less public transport.
"We have agreed with the Cabinet to support each other in this crisis. After all, public transport was and is a vital sector," wrote Groningen deputy Fleur Gräper-van Koolwijk and Amsterdam alderman Egbert de Vries. "We have earmarked resources to maintain public transport during the coronavirus pandemic. The Cabinet around 2.5 billion, provinces and regions about 500 million. That now threatens to be wasted money."
The NS already announced on Thursday that it expects "it may take years before the passenger numbers from before coronavirus are back." The railway company therefore wants to continue discussions with the Cabinet about "a structural solution."
Travelers association Rover is also concerned about the loss of coronavirus-related support next year. "With 30 percent less public transport, the Netherlands will be put decades back in time in one go," warns Rover director Freek Bos. "The economic consequences will be enormous, but without sufficient transport tens of thousands of new homes cannot be built. We will be further than ever before achieving our climate goals. Not to mention the many people who lose a job or can no longer go to work by public transport."
State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen (Infrastructure) already called the extension of the coronavirus support until the end of this year an "exceptional decision," since there are no longer any coronavirus measures.
Political party DENK reacted to the news in a tweet by suggesting the government make it easier for people to drive, if public transport will be decreased. "Public transport in the suburbs is already not at the desired level!" Süleyman Koyuncu, a DENK Amsterdam city council member, tweeted.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times