Improving utilization of infrastructure

To strengthen the economy, the Netherlands needs a properly functioning infrastructure of roads, railways and waterways along with public transport to provide optimal mobility for travellers and businesses.

The high concentration of mobility during the rush hour underlines the importance of a better use and better utilisation of infrastructural networks. With the Better Use programme, the government wishes to achieve better utilisation of our existing networks in an innovative way.

In the years ahead there will be more and more traffic on the roads. Road widening and new roads cannot compensate for the growth. To permanently improve circulation, the entire infrastructure must be better utilised. The government wants to reduce traffic jams by 20% in 2014.

Smarter travel outside peak hours

Up to 2020, car traffic will grow by 10 to 35%. This will put mobility (on working days during the rush hour) under pressure in the years ahead, despite investments in infrastructure. This applies primarily to the Randstad conurbation and, to a lesser degree, Brabant and the eastern Netherlands. By optimizing the infrastructure (The Better Use programme) the government wants to:

  • Make it more attractive to travel outside the rush hour;
  • Improve the connection between motorways, railways and waterways.

This allows us to better utilise the existing infrastructure, while reducing the necessity for building new roads.

1.1 Billion for mobility

A total of € 1.1 billion has been made available for a package of 250 measures to better utilise the infrastructure in ten regions (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague area, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, Arnhem-Nijmegen, Twente and Maastricht Groningen-Assen and Zwolle-Kampen) the state will pay for 60% of this amount, the regions will fund the rest. Besides the measures taken in the regions, national measures will also be taken. Possible measures are listed below.

Expand opening of rush-hour lanes (across the nation)

To promote traffic circulation, rush-hour lanes (temporary extra lanes on the hard shoulder) will be opened outside peak hours. The same applies to the so-called plus-lanes (extra lanes on the left of the road). By extending merging and deceleration lanes, traffic can circulate more easily.

More bicycle racks

There will be more and better bicycle racks at stations. This concerns stations along the routes where timetable-less travel will be possible in the future, such as Utrecht–Amsterdam and the Hague–Rotterdam. In this way, travel by public transport will become more attractive and people will be more inclined to leave their car at home. The (electric) bicycle is an excellent alternative to the car for short journeys. The construction of regional express bicycle routes can make it more attractive for travellers to go by bicycle now and again.

Flexible working

The state encourages companies to make agreements with their employees focused on flexible working. In this way, the government supports the Slim Werken Slim Reizen (Smart Working Smart Travel) Platform (in Dutch). In this platform, employers, representatives of trade organisations united in the knowledge centre for work and transport and the regional authorities work together to advance New Working and mobility management.

Their goal is to ensure that the number of employees not needing to travel to work by car in the rush hour will grow by 150,000 annually. Measures are, for example, the introduction of flexible working hours, self-scheduling, working at home or meetings by telephone, but also the stimulation of other ways to travel to work by offering a test with electric bicycles or scooters or by offering lease drivers a train pass (NS business card).

All of the above is aimed at making employees and employers aware of alternative work and travel possibilities and breaking habitual behaviour. Small and medium-sized business organisations can make use of the MKB mobility voucher scheme in this framework. With these vouchers they can call in a mobility advisor for a mobility scan and advice on the implementation of mobility measures in the organisation.

With accidents: clear the road more quickly

With breakdowns and accidents it is important that the road is cleared as soon as possible. This is called incident management. To this end, the police, social workers, rescuers and Rijkswaterstaat (the executive arm of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) work closely together. Approximately 13% of all traffic jams are caused by such incidents. Gains can be made on this point by making better agreements.

More and better P&R locations

There will be more new Park-and-Ride locations (‘multimodal nodes’) and the existing P&R-locations will be improved. This will give travellers more options and changing between train, car and bus will be made easier.

Real-time travel information

Better (real-time) travel information with alternative routes in the event of accidents on the road can also prevent traffic jams, for example, via matrix signs above the motorway or via the Internet or Smartphone. In this way, a passenger or shipper can always make the best choice before and during the journey. The government wants travel information to be accessible and up-to-date. The expectation is that travelling times can be reduced by 5 to 10%.

20% fewer traffic jams

Better utilisation of the roads should result in 20% fewer traffic jams in 2014. On the busiest routes there should be an average of 25,000 fewer cars in the rush hour (for example, because more people travel by train). This will ensure 20 to 30% fewer traffic jams. It has been shown that a relatively small decrease in traffic can make a big difference.