Not a single company is interested in taking over regional bus transport in the province of Zeeland once the current concession comes to and end.
Buses are currently run by transport company Connexxion which confirmed on Monday it is not interested in a new contract. No other bus firm has come forward either to provide services from 2025, local broadcaster Omroep Zeeland said.
Outside rush hour, buses are practically empty, which is “an untenable situation,” provincial infrastructure chief Harry van der Maas told the broadcaster.
This has prompted the province to come up with a new public transport plan in which buses will stop at hubs outside villages instead of driving through the centres from place to place. Very local transport will be left to taxis, community buses, shared bikes and cars.
Van der Maas said the new plan did not mean regular buses would disappear and that this is not the reason no companies are interested in a new concession. “It is more likely to be higher personnel costs and rising fuel prices,” he said.
The people of Zeeland don’t have to worry about having public transport after 2025, he said. “We will always have buses but the way we organise the service will be different.”
It is not the first time the province, one of the least densely populated in the Netherlands, has struggled to maintain services. Zeeland is facing a more long-term shortage of medical practitioners, with 30% of the 200 GPs across the province due to retire in the next five years.
The problem is more serious because modern working practices mean new doctors are not allowed to work 60-hour weeks, so each retiring GP will have to be replaced by at least two new ones.
In 2019 the province launched a scheme to recruit seasonal family doctors for the summer months with the lure of free holiday accommodation which proved a success.
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