Third of public transport will disappear if Dutch government cuts aid
Cities and municipalities across the Netherlands have warned that if the Dutch government goes ahead with cutting financial support for public transport operators, up to a third of routes across the country could disappear in 2023.
No more financial support for public transport in the Netherlands?
During the coronavirus pandemic, public transport in the Netherlands saw passenger numbers drop by around 50 percent, meaning the government had to step in to help operators make it through the crisis. Over the past two years, Dutch public transport companies have continued to receive emergency financial support from the government - but new information reveals that Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet plans to bring this to an end before the end of the year.
A recent report published by the Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy predicts that 97 percent of public transport users will return to the country’s trains, trams, buses and metros by 2023. Sources in The Hague say that this report has left the cabinet feeling positive about the future of public transport in the Netherlands.
20 to 30 percent of Dutch public transport could disappear
In response to the news, representatives from the Netherlands’ provinces have argued that government support is crucial for the future survival of the country’s extensive public transport network. They state that public transport is still not as widely used as it was before the pandemic, and expect passenger numbers won’t return to 2019 levels before 2026.
Together with Dutch political parties and transport operators, the provinces have warned that slashing government support would mean that up to 30 percent of services would be cut from 2023. They’ve called on Rutte’s cabinet to commit to a 500-million euro investment that would, if necessary, absorb the losses companies face as a result of reduced passenger numbers.
"Either we commit tens of millions of euros a year to maintain our network, or we cancel up to 30 percent of the public transport lines,” Arne Schaddelee, who's responsible for Mobility in the province of Utrecht, told NOS. He went on to say that thousands of people, specifically those with lower incomes and without cars, rely on public transport in their daily lives.
GVB planning reduced timetable in Amsterdam for 2023
Some more rural areas have already faced significant cuts to public transport services in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Bus lines have faced the biggest changes, with services in Leeuwarden, Den Bosch and Deventer being cancelled or reduced over the past several months.
But the big cities are also worried: the GVB in Amsterdam has already warned passengers that next year’s timetable faces considerable cuts. Transport alderman Melanie van der Horst has raised her concerns, saying reducing the number of services by the planned 20 to 30 percent “will affect so many people.”