The coronavirus pandemic and resulting decrease in traveler numbers put severe pressure on the public transport system in the Netherlands, and as a result, the sector has to cut 10 percent of the existing timetable next year. “Trajectories will not disappear, but customers will have to wait longer in some places,” Pedro Peters of industry association OV-NL said to RTL Nieuws.
“We receive 1.5 billion in compensation from the government, but we are still making a loss of 500 million euros. Corona makes this a worthless year. We have to compensate for that by cutting our timetable,” Peters said. On average, there will be 10 percent fewer buses, trams and trains next year, at least until July 1, regardless of how the pandemic develops.
“How much less public transport there is differs per province. But nationally it is on average 10 percent less,” Peters said. “Take the bus from Nieuw-Vennep, via Schiphol to the heart of Amsterdam. It runs 12 times an hour, that will be 8 times.” The Noord-Zuid subway line in Amsterdam will run six times per hour, instead of eight.
For travelers, this largely means they will have to wait a bit longer for their train or bus on some routes. “Because there are far fewer travelers due to the corona crisis, the other consequences won’t be bad.” Most of the cuts are made in frequency. “No routes will be scrapped. With the exception of a few night bus lines. But many of them have already been scrapped.”
Peters stressed that this pandemic was a massive blow to the public transport sector. “In the first wave, 80 to 90 percent of the passengers disappeared. Now we have 35 to 40 percent fewer passengers. A lot less. But make no mistake: whether a train is full or half full: the train must be maintained and that costs a lot of money.”
The sector will therefore need government support for years to come, Peters said to AD. “The margins in public transport are wafer-thin. If we want to prevent painful interventions, public transport will definitely need a few years of extra government support,” he said.
Provinces and transport regions want to be constructive in helping the public transport sector. “We must not let the sector fall,” Floor Vermeulen, deputy of the province of Zuid Holland, said to AD on behalf of the decentralized public transport authorities. “We want to help transporters with financing, if banks don’t.”