The province of Utrecht is looking for two new carriers who will organize all public transport in the province in the period from 2025 to 2035. The so-called ‘draft requirement schedule’ indicates which conditions the new companies must meet.
You can think of good quality public transport that can quickly adapt to the needs of passengers, more buses without harmful emissions and better accessibility for disabled travellers.
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. Design Program of Requirements (PvE) is a further elaboration of this. In the spring, the public transport network perspective 2025-2035 was also adopted, which describes the direction of development for the public transport network. After the draft SoR has been determined, ROCOV, municipalities and surrounding traffic authorities and supervisors can react. 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, 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 in line with population growth during the concession period. Travel needs are also changing, for example because people are working more at home and flexibly. Carriers can respond even better to passenger needs in the smaller and larger centres. The current working method, where carriers report in their annual transport plans on aspects such as social security and transport and tariffs, will be maintained. The new thing is that the concession agreements are reviewed in the meantime after 5 years, so that they can be adapted to current events. The two concessionaires and the province of Utrecht will also need to collaborate more on 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 is being expanded with U-liner
The new concession will be expanded with the U-liner, a new medium-distance 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 capital area. This is followed by a fine-grained 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 providing personal data.
In the new concession period, there are more options for travelers with disabilities or handicaps. For example, there will be more space for wheelchairs and walkers in public transport in and around the city of Utrecht. All buses and trams must comply with the agreements concluded in ‘Administrative agreement Accessibility for public transport 2022-2032’. The travel and route information is also made understandable to the widest possible group of travelers. This means, among other things, that information boards at stops and in buses and trams are placed so that wheelchair travelers and the visually impaired can also read them, and that contrasting colors and easy-to-read fonts are used. as much as possible. Experience experts are involved in the development of accessible travel information for all target groups.
What the new carriers must take into account in any case is that all buses, trams and cars in public transport in Utrecht must no longer emit harmful substances by the end of 2028. With this, the province sets the bar slightly higher than the national agreements: All motorized vehicles throughout the Netherlands must be emission-free from 2030.
The carriers who wish to participate in the tender must present a plan for how they believe they can be a good employer. Satisfied employees are good for the customer (the traveler) and ensure good and stable business operations with room for development and innovation. It is important to be able to recruit sufficient and good staff. In addition to requirements that stimulate good employment practices, the province sets specific requirements for the concessionaires as social employers (Social Return, employment of people with a distance from the labor market). Particular emphasis is placed on social security in public transport, for passengers but also for employees. For example, the carriers draw up an annual ‘social security action plan’ to ensure this as well as possible.
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