Adjusting public transit to social distancing society will cost €1.2 billion: report

Adapting public transit in the Netherlands so that everyone can keep 1.5 meters apart will cost at least 1.2 billion euros, according to sector association OVNL. The measures in place against the coronavirus mean that at most 25 percent of the capacity of buses, trains, trams and subways can safely be used, OVNL chairman Pedro Peters said to the Telegraaf.

The use of public transit has dwindled to around 10 percent of what the Netherlands is used to, now that everyone has to stay home as much as possible, Peters said to the newspaper. “If, for example, students, commuters and recreational travelers are allowed to use public transport again, we will have major problems with the available safe space.”

According to Peters, it is not transit companies’ task to determine when a bus is or train is too full. He thinks the government should deploy more enforcement officers for this task. “Even with a maximum 1.5 meter occupancy, many more enforcers will be needed to maintain the required distance when getting on and off, on the platforms and in the means of transport. Otherwise it will be chaos.”

Trade union FNV is also concerned about looming problems in public transit. “If clear choices are not made quickly, public transport will become the bottleneck of the one and a half meter society. During the trip, we sit on each others’ laps after all,” FNV director Henri Jansen said to the newspaper.