Sunday 18 April 2021

Public transport subsidies double but passenger numbers are stable

The number of people using bus, trams and metro has remained stable over the past few years but the amount of government subsidy to these forms of public transport has doubled, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Tuesday.

Between 2004 and 2010, spending on public transport (except trains) rose 105% to €1.9bn, the FD said. But the total number of kilometres travelled only rose 5%, according to economic research institute SEO.

‘This shows there is a problem with the costing,’ research director Carl Koopmans told the paper.


The provinces and metropolitan regions responsible for organising public transport pay little attention to the cost, the researchers said. Instead they concentrate on issues such as levels of service, environmental aspects and the availability of wifi, researcher Koert van Buiren told the paper.

The report ‘Does the public transport market work?’ says costs are mounting because of the lack of competition during the bidding process, particularly in the big cities.

Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam have resisted efforts to force them to put their bus and tram services out to public tender. Most regional public transport services have been opened up to competition for the contract.

Foreign firms

Some 60% of the public transport subsidy goes to the metropolitan regions, where tickets account for just 30% of the cost of travel.

The three main public transport providers in the Netherlands – Connexxion, Veolia and Arriva – are owned by foreign firms which do not give a breakdown of the financial returns on their activities in the Netherlands.

The transport ministry told the FD it wanted to study the results before reacting.

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