Thursday 07 July 2022

Bus services may disappear if coronavirus support ends, provinces warn

A third of local bus services may disappear if the government ends the emergency support to public transport this year, severely limiting the mobility of people who depend on them, provincial authorities have warned.

Public transport companies had to be helped out financially as the pandemic slashed passenger numbers by up to 50% in places.

However, it is too early to end the measure, the provincial authorities said, because passenger numbers will not be back at pre-pandemic levels until 2026. Government experts, however, predict that 97% of travellers will have returned to public transport by next year.

‘We either subsidise the routes with tens of millions of euros or we cut them by 30%,’ Utrecht provincial deputy Arne Schaddelee told broadcaster NOS. He made it clear the provinces do not have the money to keep all the services going.

Closing down bus services in the provinces would impact particularly on people on low incomes who do not have the use of a car. ‘They depend on public transport. And they are also the people who are hit hardest in any crisis,’ Schaddelee said.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam will also face fewer tram and bus services  if corona support measures end this year, city officials say.

Transport chief Melanie van der Horst said the move would have ‘economic and social consequences’ and questioned the wisdom of cutting back on public transport in times of increasing congestion and pollution.

Commentators also point out that the cuts would make it more difficult to reduce car use in the city, as officials aim to do.

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