The province of Utrecht is looking for two new carriers who will arrange all public transport in the province in the period 2025 to 2035. The so-called 'draft schedule of requirements' states which conditions the new carriers must meet. You can think of good quality public transport that can quickly adapt to passenger needs, more buses without harmful emissions and better accessibility for disabled travelers.
These conditions are a follow-up to the Memorandum of Principles adopted in May. In this, the Provincial Council laid down the basic principles for the new concessions. The design Program of Requirements (PvE) is a further elaboration of this. This spring, the Public Transport Network Perspective 2025-2035 was also adopted, describing the development direction of the Public Transport network. After the draft SoR has been determined, ROCOV, municipalities and surrounding transport authorities and road managers can respond. This is followed by a final SoR, after which the tender can start. The new concession is issued for a period of 10 years (2025-2035).
Flexible and high-quality public transport
The most important task is that public transport by bus and tram will respond better to the many developments in our province in the period up to 2035. We are building on the public transport network that we now have. But public transport must be able to grow and change with the growth of the population during the concession period. Travel needs are also changing, for example because people work more at home and flexibly. Carriers can respond even better to passenger needs in the smaller and larger centers.
The current working method, in which carriers report in their annual transport plans on aspects such as social safety and transport and tariffs, will be maintained. What is new is that the concession agreements are reviewed in the interim (after 5 years), so that they can be adapted to current events. The two concessionaires and province of Utrecht will also have to cooperate more in knowledge building, development and programming of the U-OV brand and all public transport services. In this way we strengthen the connection with trains, bicycles, P+R and the local buses, Flexbus and other additional public transport.
U-OV expands with U-liner
The new concession will be expanded with the U-liner, a new medium-haul line. The U-liner is an addition to the existing U-link, U-Tram, U-bus and U-flex. U-link and U-Tram are lines in the metropolitan area. This is followed by a fine-meshed basis with U-bus, U-flex and Buurtbus. The buses on the U-liner offer more comfort and seats, which suits this long-distance connection. The U-liner also has a well-functioning Wi-Fi network that can be used free of charge by travelers and charging options (USB port according to the latest standard). Each seat has a sufficiently strong Wi-Fi connection with sufficient speed and internet access without the provision of personal data.
In the new concession period, more options are available for travelers with a disability or disability. For example, there will be more room for wheelchairs and walkers in public transport in and around the city of Utrecht. All buses and trams must comply with the agreements made in the 'Administrative Agreement Accessibility of Public Transport 2022-2032'. The travel and route information is also made understandable for the widest possible group of travelers. This means, among other things, that information panels on the bus stops and in the bus and tram are placed in such a way that travelers in a wheelchair and the visually impaired can also read them, and that contrasting colors and clearly legible fonts are used as much as possible. Experts by experience are deployed in the development of accessible travel information for all target groups.
What the new carriers must in any case take into account is the fact that by the end of 2028 all buses, trams and cars in public transport in Utrecht may no longer emit harmful substances. With this, the province is setting the bar slightly higher than the national agreements: all motorized vehicles throughout the Netherlands must be emission-free from 2030.
Good employment practices
The carriers that want to participate in the tender must submit a plan of how they think they can be a good employer. Satisfied employees are good for the customer (the traveller) and ensure good and stable business operations with room for development and innovation. This is important in order to be able to recruit sufficient and good personnel. In addition to requirements that stimulate good employment practices, the province sets specific requirements for the concession holders as a social employer (Social Return, employing people with a distance to the labor market). Special attention is paid to social safety in public transport, for passengers but also for employees. For example, the carriers draw up an annual 'Social Safety Action Plan' to guarantee this as well as possible.