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  • Writer's pictureShanna Lutgert

Staff Shortage In Public Transport Leaves People Waiting At Bus Stops

© Shanna Lutgert

Staff shortage in public transport in rural areas of the Netherlands leaves people waiting at bus stops and train stations while the rides are cancelled, locals say.

Per September 13, two to 3,5 percent of the bus rides are cancelled due to a shortage of staff, Qbuzz announced. The public transport company explained that the percentage of cancelled rides is normally at half a percent, and now that number has drastically gone up. Train company Arriva has the same problems.

People who live in rural areas are most affected. Buses don’t ride frequently, and now it causes people to wait for buses that are not coming at all. “My son was late for school by two hours because the bus didn’t come. Currently, it’s like a Russian roulette,” Sandra Ebbers (41), teacher and alderwoman of the municipality of Westerwolde, says.

Ebbers and her family live in Bellingwolde. She explains that the bus to the train station often doesn’t show up and her kids are not informed about it. It makes her uncomfortable, especially when it’s dark. As a result, she often takes her kids to the train station or to school by car.

Messages like 'Bus 319 is cancelled' show up more often. © Shanna Lutgert

“My son has autism, so it’s extra stressful for him,” the alderwoman says. Unfortunately, public transport is not in her department at the municipality, but she explains her frustrations to her colleagues.

She notices the same frustration with Arriva trains to rural areas in Groningen. On September 12, trains were cancelled because of a power outage. Rail replacement buses were deployed after two hours, Ebbers says. The communication was very unclear, and a lot of people needed to wait for a long time to go home. The delays continued in the evening.

Continuous delays discourage the use of public transport

“I had five minutes to spare when I picked up my rental car to go to my first day of my internship,” Bart van der Laan (38), one of the affected that day, says. Van der Laan says that it was a stressful day that could have ended much worse.

People in other rural areas in the Netherlands experience the same. “When the train from Nijmegen is delayed, even by five minutes, they just cancel it,” Esmee Vestjens (24), student at Maastricht University, says. Vestjens lives in Reuver and takes the train to Maastricht every day, with a transfer in Roermond.

Vestjens also notices the problems of public transport. © Shanna Lutgert

With Nijmegen as the origin of her train, the route to Roermond is about 1,5 hours long. Sometimes only one train is used. As a result, many people are squeezed together. Vestjens thinks it also causes aggression amongst the passengers. “Last week there was a fight in the train,” she says.

Vestjens adds that she often takes many trains earlier to make sure she makes it to her classes in time. She can imagine that it discourages people to travel by public transport and choose more polluting, but reliable, options of travelling instead. The struggles with public transport cause her brother to rather save money for a car, instead of taking the bus or the train.

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