Public transport adapted to the 1,5-metre society could cost over a billion euros
Modifying public transport for the new “1,5-metre society” in the Netherlands will cost at least 1,2 billion euros. According to Pedro Peters of the transport authority OVNL in an interview with the Telegraaf, at most, only 25 percent of the capacity of trams, buses and trains can be used to facilitate these new measures.
Space and safety a concern for when commuting resumes
At present, trams, buses and trains are frequented by essential workers and for those travelling for exceptional circumstances, therefore they are being used at 10 percent of their usual capacity. Social distancing rules are, of course, easy to maintain for passengers at present. Peters explained that if students, commuters and recreational passengers were all to suddenly resume travelling as normal, there would be major problems with space and safety.
The OVNL is not the only authority concerned. The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) also foresees that there could be serious problems for passengers when measures are eventually relaxed and public transport use resumes.
FNV director Henri Janssen: “If clear choices are not made quickly, public transport will become the bottleneck of the 1,5-metre society.” He says it could get so out of control that we are practically “sitting on each others’ laps” in the trains, trams and buses.
Extra personnel needed to ensure distance between passengers
Peters reckons that it is not the transport company’s task to determine when a train is too full or to enforce the rules – instead the government will need to deploy specialised enforcement officers to maintain the required distance between passengers when getting on and off. “Otherwise it will be chaos” Pedro Peters stresses.