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Not surprising, because the law was written when there was no smartphone yet, when we could not yet digitally link forms of transport.

According to experts, the Passenger Transport Act 2000, a law that regulates various forms of passenger transport such as buses, trams, metros and taxis in the Netherlands, is no longer sufficient for the current mobility landscape. Nico van Paridon, new mobility and innovation strategist, emphasizes that this law needs to be modernized to meet the contemporary needs of public mobility.

Recent developments in Zeeland illustrate the challenges that regional clients face. The province tried to realize flexible public transport through a tender as a transition to a broader model of public mobility, given the low occupancy rates and high costs of regular public transport. Zeeland aimed to combine a network of basic public transport with various forms of flexible transport and also took on revenue responsibility.

"Apparently the market has decided that they did not find Zeeland's request interesting enough. Then you can conclude that the government can improve that market analysis with its own company, but I doubt that."

However, the challenges proved significant. The tender did not attract any registrations, which leads to the question of whether the government is able to conduct better market analyzes with its own company than private parties. Van Paridon doubts this and suggests that drawing up adequate specifications for such tenders is complex. According to him, this shows that the current Passenger Transport Act is inadequate, especially because it is not flexible enough to allow different forms of transport — such as bicycle sharing, trains and regional taxis — to be seamlessly connected and offered as a whole.

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In response to this, Habtamu de Hoop, Member of Parliament for GroenLinks-PvdA, submitted a private member's bill that should offer regional clients the opportunity to set up their own public transport company. De Hoop, recognized as an expert and passionate parliamentarian, strives to keep public transport in the Netherlands accessible to everyone. Nevertheless, Van Paridon believes that the efforts of MPs such as De Hoop would be more effective in revising the Passenger Transport Act 2000.

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Habtamu de Hoop
Photo: Habtamu de Hoop (GroenLinks-PvdA)

Van Paridon suggests that if he were in Habtamu's shoes, he would call on the minister to modernize the law. This would not only benefit public mobility in the Netherlands, but also respond to technological progress such as the integration of digital solutions that make it possible to efficiently connect different modes of transport. He points out that the current law does not adequately respond to the possibilities offered by modern technologies such as smartphones.

This debate about the need for legislative reform and the role of the government in the regulation and provision of public transport shows how important it is to keep legislation in line with technological and social changes. The discussion surrounding the Passenger Transport Act 2000 will likely continue as long as the needs of the public continue to evolve.

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