Additional measures to relieve line 12 until tram is up and running

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As long as the tram to The Uithof isn’t running, alternative measures need to be taken to relieve the pressure on the continually filled-to-the-brim bus line 12. One proposal suggests increasing the number of bikes to borrow, and to add more bike routes between the Central Station and The Uithof. Another idea that’s going around is to change class times of both university and the university of applied sciences, in order to relieve the rush hour buses.

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That’s the conclusion of the emergency debate held by the Utrecht city council and councilwoman Lot van Hooijdonk on February 8th. The debate was requested after news broke last week that the tram wouldn’t be running until summer 2019 at the earliest – and then only between the Vaartsche Rijn station and The Uithof – and not until late 2019 from the Central Station. Initially, the tram was supposed to start running at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year between The Uithof and the Central Station.

Additionally, millions of euros more than planned are needed to finish the project: a total of 84 million euros, of which 59 million will be paid by the province, and 25 million by the city of Utrecht. Another 13.7 million euros are needed to refill the reserves, it was said during the council meeting.

According to the councilwoman, it was only evident halfway through 2017 that delays on the Uithof tram construction were inevitable. At that same time, the additional costs became clear.

The councilwoman has promised to collaborate with the province and the bus company in looking at ways to relieve line 12. But it doesn’t seem likely that more buses will run on line 12. “We’re already at maximum capacity.” She is open to bringing suggestions from the council to the meeting.

One suggestion was to ask both the Hogeschool Utrecht and Utrecht University to adapt their class schedules in order to make rush hour less crowded. Another council member asked to make intercity trains stop at Vaartsche Rijn station, and to add more bike routes between Central Station and The Uithof.

Van Hooijdonk wants to start talks about the class schedules with the HU and UU, and states she’ll start a bike-borrowing program in collaboration with Utrecht Science Park. The councilwoman says it’s not possible to turn another station into an intercity station and add more bike paths in the time before the tram will run. She is looking at possibilities for cheap solutions to, for instance, clearly mark alternative bike routes with traffic signs.

The construction on the Uithof line started in 2011. The tram will replace bus line 12, and will transport 45.000 passengers. Each tram will fit 216 passengers. A trip from Utrecht Central Station to The Uithof’s Heidelberglaan will take 12.5 minutes. The end station – P+R The Uithof – will be reached after 17 minutes.

Translation: Indra Spronk

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