In the last five years, around 527 bus stops have decreased in the Netherlands, the investigative journalistic platform Pointer (KRO-NCRV) has found. Especially in the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen, the decrease is the greatest, with 11 and almost 7 percent, respectively. The only positive development in terms of infrastructure was in Flevoland province, as there are now more bus stops there than five years ago, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).
PBL researcher Jeroen Bastiaanssen observes that this development is mainly taking place in rural areas, but increasingly also in urban fringes and villages, with decreasing numbers of bus stops. This could lead to less public transport, he believes.”There is often a focus on bus connections that take you quickly to a train station or city center, but that means that winding routes through neighborhoods and villages are sometimes canceled. Residents in those areas are therefore regularly dependent on a car to reach certain facilities,” he told Pointer.
But not everyone can afford a car to drive to work or do their grocery shopping. That’s why the decline in bus stops mainly affects people from the lower class, the elderly as well as young people who rely on public transport. According to Bastiaansen, the lack of accessibility will have drastic consequences on people’s daily lives. Doctor’s appointments, going to work or meeting up with friends will become a Sisyphean task. This also means that these people are at high risk of transport poverty.
“We have the right to education and the right to care, but we have no right to be able to get to school or the hospital within a certain time. That is actually strange, ” Bastiaansen told Pointer.
Also, State Secretary Heijnen (Infrastructure and Water Management) recognizes that transport inequality is a problem for people in the Netherlands, Pointer reported. She is working with Minister Harbers on a new mobility vision. “We think it is important that mobility is accessible to everyone in a good way. We also see this as a right, so it is our intention to take this into account in our mobility vision, ” Heijnen said.