Much more money must be invested in public transport in the Amsterdam region, with an expansion of the metro network to Schiphol airport as a priority, the Amsterdam transport company GVB CEO said on Tuesday.
Alexandra van Huffelen, former Rotterdam councillor for sustainability for the left-wing liberals D66, wants a new metro line built from the IJburg district through Osdorp and the Reiker polder to Schiphol.
The current train connection with the airport is no longer sufficient, she told the Financieele Dagblad. ‘Passenger numbers are growing and not everyone wants to end up at the central station or Amsterdam-Zuid.’
An east-west line would also provide public transport to areas not yet reached by metro, she said.
The problems with the north-south line currently being constructed under the city have made the council wary of new public transport initiatives, Van Huffelen says.
The construction of this line has seen the budget rise from an original €1.4bn to €3.1bn. It was originally due to open in 2011 but that has now been put back to 2017.
‘Despite this debacle, it is absolutely time to take new steps,’ says Van Huffelen. ‘We now know how to do dig a tunnel and this is knowledge we must use.’
Billions of euros will be necessary, but Van Huffelen says the European central bank’s plans for quantitative easing mean that interest rates will be low and money for large infrastructure projects will never have been cheaper.
The GVB is having to tighten its belt over the coming years, with a subsidy falling over ten years from €1,000m to €36m. This necessitates strong growth in passenger numbers, if it is to avoid going into the red. Much of that growth will come from the north-south metro line.
The GVB’s concession to provide Amsterdam with public transport runs until 2014 and dictates that passenger numbers must rise from the current 750,000 to one million.
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