Public campaign must take away ov-fear, ANBO finds it confusing

Public transport companies are starting a public campaign to get more people back on buses, trains, trams and underground trains. The number of passengers is now about 50 to 60% of those before the corona outbreak.

But the governments advice is: work at home as much as possible so as not to spread the coronavirus further. Is the campaign to attract more travellers against this?

Chairman Pedro Peters of the OV-NL umbrella organisation does not think so. He emphasises that, since 1 July, non-necessary journeys by public transport have also been permitted again. The policy is no longer: stay at home. We are also allowed to eat out and go to the zoo again. So public transport is allowed again

Strict conditions

However, strict conditions apply: wear a mouth shield and travel at quiet moments as much as possible. Peters: Its a balance. We welcome travellers, but ask them to travel outside rush hours and to abide by the applicable rules Anyone who does not abide by the rules risks a fine of โ‚ฌ90.

Passenger organisation Rover thinks the campaign is very okay. A spokesman says that the public transport companies have been advised to campaign. Of course we have to keep an eye on them together. But a lot is possible by train or bus

Vulnerable groups

Association for the Elderly ANBO calls the campaign confusing. A spokesperson refers to RIVMs advice to avoid public transport for people in at-risk groups. People over the age of 70 fall into that group. There are over 3 million over-65s in the Netherlands, a large proportion of them are over 70 and they are advised to avoid public transport. This is not a consistent policy

Many elderly people avoid the train and bus themselves. A recent survey by ANBO among 1700 senior citizens shows that 61% do not yet travel by public transport because of corona.

RIVM is not responding substantively to the campaign of public transport companies, but confirms that at-risk groups are still advised to avoid public transport.

Number of passengers

Figures from Translink, the company that keeps daily records of how many passengers check in with an ov chip card, show that the number of passengers boarding in August was 50 to 60%, with peaks of up to 70%. We can see that the number of travellers is increasing if you look at all the public transport card transactions. The individual tickets do not count, says Gerbrandt Corbee of Translink.

The number of travellers who check in with a public transport chip card. Percentage compared to the number of travellers last year:

The objective of the public transport companies is to reach 80% of the number of passengers before the end of the year for the corona crisis. According to Pedro Peters of OV-NL, that number is essential to generate sufficient revenue: We have two streams of revenue: passengers and the government

This year, the public transport companies have received a public aid package worth EUR 1.5 billion. Peters: That is a huge amount, but not enough. In 2020, public transport companies will still lose between 400 and 500 million euros, and this cannot happen for another year. For 2021, and the government knows that, we are also going to turn a blind eye

Timetable

OV-NL states that without a new aid package in 2021 and a return of passengers, the public transport companies will be forced to cut the timetable. Without additional aid next year, we will be forced to cut costs, and then you have to think of a 10 to 15% reduction in services

Peters: We understand that the Empire cannot replenish up to 100%. But the question is: how much surplus do we want to keep in the air together? I would be interested to hear what the government will say about that on Prinsjesdag tomorrow