Task force presents plans to fight traffic jams
The report presented to reduce gridlock on Dutch motorways will only work if the government has the cooperation of companies.9 September 2008
On Thursday, the Mobility Management Task Force, created to reduce gridlock on Dutch motorways, presented its report to Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings and Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer.
Minister Eurlings is enthusiastic about the plan and has promised EUR 100 million to finance it.
He says: "We have to think differently about mobility. Not complain about the problems, but work shoulder to shoulder with companies to improve the situation."
The task force's plans should reduce gridlock in a number of regions by 5 percent, provided agreement can be reached with the business community.
Companies are expected to encourage flexible working hours and to ask their workers to leave their cars at home and use alternative modes of transport.
The report advocates bigger financial incentives to persuade people to work from home or move closer to their place of work. Former union leader, Lodewijk de Waal, who led the workgroup, says, "These measures shouldn't cost the treasury very much."
These ideas have been heard before. What is different this time is that local governments will make a series of covenants with businesses in their region. Sceptics say the plan can only work if all businesses participate. If they don't, the extra space created on the roads will simply fill up again.
They say the only way to tackle congestion is by charging motorists to use the road. Measures taken in London, Stockholm and Singapore have shown that this approach works.
The Netherlands is preparing to introduce kilometre charges for lorries in 2012 and for all road users in 2016.
Meanwhile, Deputy Transport Minister Tineke Huizinga has announced that the price of bus and tram tickets could increase by 4.5 percent in 2009. The minister says the money is needed to cover the increase in the cost of fuel and wages.
The Socialist Party, GreenLeft and the Christian Democrats fear a price hike could put people off using public transport, so her proposals may not make it through parliament. Last year's proposed price increase was reduced by MPs.
This must all be music to the ears of the Netherlands branch of Friends of the Earth. It is busy organising its annual "Progress week" next week. The event promotes alternatives to using car.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]