Zeeland, with its vast and sparsely populated area, has long faced challenges regarding the accessibility of its villages and centers. The traditional public transport system, which relied heavily on fixed routes of bus, boat and train, no longer met the changing needs of the population. In response, a new, innovative transport system is being introduced, which includes not only fixed routes, but also a range of flexible options such as flex taxis, bike sharing, car sharing and carpooling initiatives.
This development is not only a response to direct transport needs, but also a strategic move to improve the quality of life and accessibility of Zeeland. The collaboration between the municipalities of Zeeland, the province of Zeeland and the government emphasizes the joint effort to ensure a smooth transition to this new system. What is important here is the involvement of travelers in these changes, something that is essential for the success of this project.
Minister Harbers: “Our way of traveling is changing. In addition to the car, bicycle and train, there is more and more shared transport, there are boarding and transfer points and apps to better arrange our transport. It is great to see how Zeeland works in a solution-oriented manner in a province where good accessibility by public transport is a challenge. An app to help travelers in Zeeland get on their way better is a great initiative for this.”
In addition to financial contributions from Zeeland, the ministry is investing six million euros. The available budget will be invested, among other things, in the further development of a digital platform that makes planning, booking, traveling and paying via travel apps possible. The fact that WMO transport is also part of this new plan is an important and unique aspect.
During the BO MIRT it was announced that the government is investing 6 million in the Zeeland public transport system. In the coming years, Zeeland will become more accessible, also in the evenings and at weekends. In addition to the fixed routes of bus, boat and train, the public transport system focuses on so-called fine-grained and flexible transport. Zeeland receives money from the government to jointly further implement the plans. The innovative system is an example for other regions.
The announcement by the Province of Zeeland, in collaboration with the government, to invest six million euros in an innovative transport system, including a digital platform for planning, booking and paying for trips, raises some critical questions. Although at first glance the initiative appears to be a promising step towards modernizing public transport in Zeeland, there are underlying concerns that should not be overlooked.
One of the critical aspects of this new system is the dependence on drivers and public transport companies who register for the tender. The reality in many rural and sparsely populated areas, such as Zeeland, is that there is often a shortage of drivers. This may be due to various factors, such as unattractive working conditions or simply a lack of people interested in these professions. Without enough drivers to operate the planned routes and services, the effectiveness of the new system could be seriously undermined, no matter how advanced or user-friendly the app is.
In addition, the willingness of public transport companies to register for the tenders in Zeeland another critical point. If these companies are not convinced of the feasibility or profitability of the routes and services offered, they can choose not to participate. This could lead to a lack of essential services in certain areas, especially in the more remote and less populated parts of the province. The effectiveness of a digital platform strongly depends on the availability and regularity of the public transport that it must support.
There is also the question of the accessibility of the app itself. In regions where digital literacy may be lower, especially among older residents, a transition to an app-based system can be a barrier. While the initiative will retain a telephone booking option, the focus should be on ensuring this service is as effective and accessible as the digital option.
pilot for the Netherlands
State Secretary Heijnen emphasizes the impressive creativity and effort that Zeeland has shown in developing this future-proof transport system, a system that could possibly also be used in other parts of the Netherlands. State Secretary Heijnen: “I am very impressed by the innovative plans of the province of Zeeland. The accessibility of Zeeland is a difficult puzzle. With an enormous dose of creativity, we have worked hard recently to create a future-proof new transport system. I hope that the experiences gained here can also provide smart solutions throughout the Netherlands.”
Member of the Provincial Executive SGP Van der Maas emphasizes the importance of government support in this major transition to new forms of transport and expresses the hope that Zeeland will be an example for other regions. This initiative illustrates a proactive approach to addressing regional challenges and can inspire similar efforts in other parts of the country.
Photo rights: Province of Zeeland – Harry van der Maas