BLUE

A few months after the opening on Linkeroever, Luchtbal and Merksem, the new Antwerp park-and-rides are still as good as empty, the Gazet van Antwerpen discovered. The occupancy rate fluctuates around 10% on weekdays and between 12% and 20% on weekends. “We believe that road users will discover over time that a spot in the park-and-ride will give you a stress-free and traffic-free ride to the city center,” says Lantis spokesperson Annik Dirkx.

The third and final park-and-ride opened two months ago. The three together account for a capacity of four thousand cars. The price tag is 45 million euros. According to the trade magazine Passenger Transport, the aim is for commuters and tourists to leave their cars on the outskirts of the city and then continue their journey by tram. It should relieve traffic congestion around the city, especially with the works on the Oosterweel connection. It's just that commuters don't seem to have found their way to these car parks yet.

In the park-and-ride on Linkeroever, several hundred cars will be parked on the ground and first floors at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The occupancy rate is still a long way from the 2022 targets set in the business plan for these three new park-and-rides. For Linkeroever, an occupancy rate of 65% is expected on weekdays and 33% on weekends. In February, however, this was 12% in the week and 13% in the weekend. For the park-and-ride at Luchtbal and Merksem, the expected occupancy rate is 30% during the week and 15% during the weekend. Even in these two car parks, the proposed occupancy rate is still a long way off.

According to Lantis, the developer of the Oosterweel connection and owner of these park-and-rides, corona still throws a spanner in the works. “The opening fell in the fourth corona wave with the accompanying measures, such as working from home and no major events,” says Lantis spokesperson Dirkx. "In addition, people still seem to avoid public transport for fear of contamination."

They also do not notice any effect on the number of passengers at De Lijn. On Linkeroever there is a minimal rise on lines 3, 5 and 6, but that is probably due to the new tram stop at this parking building. At the park-and-ride in Merksem and on Luchtbal there is even a slight decrease in the number of travelers on three tram lines.

At De Lijn, corona is also referred to as the main cause. One of the criticisms was the absence of signage to this park-and-ride. This was noticed during the influx of shopping Dutch people who, due to the lockdown in their country, drove into the Antwerp city center by car instead of using the newly opened park-and-rides in Merksem and on Luchtbal.

Lantis and the Roads and Traffic Agency are planning adjustments to the signage. However, both are not on the same page about who does what and where.

In addition, new talks are underway between De Lijn and Lantis to be able to give a combination ticket to people who leave their car in the park-and-ride and thus travel cheaper by tram. “It is too early to draw conclusions from the occupancy figures,” says Lantis spokesman Dirkx. “These are new buildings, where you can use a new mobility concept: switching from car to public transport, but also to other forms of shared mobility. It takes time for people to discover the benefits of that. In the meantime, we see the traffic jams to the city increasing again and the Oosterweel works on the right bank also have to get up to speed. We believe that over time road users will discover that a spot in the park-and-ride will give you a stress-free and traffic-free ride to the city center.”

Also read: P+R, you can transfer to public transport there

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