Cabinet guarantees 150 million euros to cover public transport shortfalls
The Cabinet will guarantee a maximum of 150 million euros next year to address possible shortages that public transport companies will incur if the number of passengers remains lower than before the coronavirus pandemic. Infrastructure State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen is presenting the scheme to the public transport sector to provide more financial security. This amount will cover two-thirds of possible losses in the worst-case scenario in 2023, she said.
Heijnen pointed out that it is not clear how many travelers will use the bus, metro, tram and train again. The various forecasts that have been created all differ significantly. The regional transportation companies and the national railway, NS, project far fewer travelers than the KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis. At the moment, passenger totals are fairly stable at 80 percent compared to 2019. KiM stated that the number of passengers will return to pre-pandemic levels last seen in 2019.
This new scheme is different from the compensation received by public transport organizations in recent years due to the pandemic. With that money, public transport was able to maintain its services, even though lockdowns meant the modes of transport were barely used. The coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, but the threat of scaling down remains, because of the dip in passengers. This will present a revenue shortfall for operations in 2023.
"With this transition arrangement, the trains, buses, trams and metros can continue to run next year. Significant cuts in the timetables are not an option for me. We see that passenger patterns are changing and that people, for example, are working from home more often," Heijnen said.
"The 2023 transition arrangement is intended to The public transport sector can better match supply and demand. It provides transporters with certainty for the coming year. Parties who want to make use of the scheme can register for this."
However, there are conditions attached to the scheme. For example, the transport companies must balance their supply with passenger demand after 2023. They also have to do their best to win back passengers. It is important that public transport is available, reliable and safe, according to the minister.
However, she finds it "disappointing" that provinces and regional transport have rejected her proposal for a joint safety net, she writes to the Tweede Kamer. That would have been worth 220 million euros. That is why she has now set up a transition arrangement herself.
The Amsterdam Transport Region also regrets that it has failed to make agreements together. Heijnen's new scheme does offer possibilities, but not all regions can cope with it, because some conditions are too strict, reports the chair, Melanie van der Horst.
Reporting by ANP