Arriva has announced that it will be decreasing its bus presence in Friesland by 14 percent by the end of the year. Opstapper replacement transports are expected to compensate for the decreased availability of Arriva buses.
The decision, according to Friesland deputy Avine Fokkers, was made largely in response to a significant overall drop in travelers utilizing public transport during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as a 1,7-million-euro reduction in provincial funding.
“Demand drives supply,” said Fokkers, who is also a member of political party Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD), reports the Leeuwarder Courant. She noted that Arriva will be taking a flexible approach to the change in bus availability, with adjustments to the schedule and number of buses dependent on demand. The exact changes to the timetable and routes are expected to be released by Arriva on the 1st of July.
The reduction in provincial funding, which was primarily used as a means to compensate for students traveling on discount OV-chip-cards, alongside a decline in overall passengers, are among the key reasons for the decrease in buses, reports the Leeuwarder Courant.
While Arriva has been cleared to continue its bus operations in Friesland heading into the years 2023 and 2024, its overall traveling hours have decreased significantly when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Next year, when the new schedule will be fully implemented, Arriva buses are slated to operate for a total of 529,000 hours; an overall decrease of 88,0000 hours, or 240 hours per day.
Opstapper transports, which act as replacement buses, are expected double their hours in order to fill in any potential gaps in the timetable. The Lijntaxi (line taxi), a smaller replacement transport, is also expected to be relied upon more heavily as a result of the decrease in mainline Arriva buses.
The first review of the new timetable will most likely occur in September, with decisions regarding the change in bus availability as well as the new schedule to follow sometime after.