There’s been a record reduction in bus stops in the three northern provinces over the past five years, a cost-saving measure also touted as a scheme to reduce car use. Most of the bus stands were eliminated in Drenthe (-17 percent) and Groningen (-15 percent), while Friesland lost 7% of its bus stops.
The impact of the cuts in public transit will vary greatly from place to place, says professor of mobility and spatial development Henk Meurs of Radboud University. By thinning the number of stops on bus routes, the authorities are trying to speed up buses for better on-time performance, he believes. “In some cases, this will reduce the overall mobility of the people who might find it difficult to walk longer distances to bus stops. In other cases, faster lines from A to B are deliberate policies to provide a competitive alternative to the car.”
Small villages and towns are often the hardest hit by cuts in public transit, RTV Noord finds. Fourteen northern villages were left without any bus connection in the past five years. These are Kropswolde, Ommelanderwijk, Stedum, Oostwold, Veelerveen, Vriescheloo, Nieuw Scheemda, De Maten, Steendam, ‘t Waar, Oosteinde, Lettelbert, Nieuw Beerta and Midwolde. The total number of Groningen towns and villages that no longer have any bus service reached 67, the broadcaster says. A total of 208 bus stops have been discontinued in Groningen over the past five years.
The consolidation of bus stops has a goal of improving on-time performance and eliminating little-used or redundant stops, says professor of transport policy Bert van Wee of TU Delft. Just 1% of public transport users have been affected by the cuts, he claims. “Most of the bus stops that have been discontinued have few daily riders and have other stops within walking distance. Besides, many people can take the car or e-bike,” he says.