Rotterdam's public transport company RET facing serious financial trouble
The financial situation of the Rotterdam public transport company RET has deteriorated sharply in recent years, and the company worries about significant shortages and severe money problems in the next five years. Behind the scenes, the municipality of Rotterdam and metropolitan region MRDH are fiercely debating how to solve these problems, and who should pay for it, AD reports.
The RET is still struggling with fewer passengers than before the coronavirus. Traveler numbers - and therefore income - are currently about 90 percent of the pre-pandemic level. And that while the company expected significant growth. The current traveler numbers are 18 percent lower than was anticipated in the forecasts.
And the RET’s financial agreements with the MRDH, the metropolitan alliance comprising the 23 municipalities in the Rotterdam-The Hague region, are based on the forecasts, not the actual numbers. So the company receives less subsidy from the MRDH every year, while it needs more support.
The higher energy costs will also saddle the RET with 40 million euros in extra costs this year on a budget of 500 million euros. And, like its Amsterdam counterpart GVB, the Rotterdam public transport company has an aging workforce and high absenteeism.
The RET’s two shareholders - the municipality of Rotterdam and MRDH - have been discussing the situation in the background for months but haven’t agreed on solutions, according to AD.
One proposal is a substantial financial injection from Rotterdam, but the municipality fears this isn’t a structural solution to the RET’s problems. Another fare increase is also an option, but that may make public transport unaffordable to many people, leading to fewer travelers and even less income for the RET.
According to AD, the Rotterdam city council is holding a closed and confidential meeting about the situation on Wednesday evening. The parties involved declined to comment to the newspaper.