By Jordan Hunt, 18 June 2017
The Dutch are not just good at creating an incredible cycling network. They’ve also developed a highly effective transit network which consists of trains, trams, subways, ferries, and buses. During our last week in Delft, we had the opportunity to meet with a few professionals who are tasked with developing and maintaining these networks. It was very interesting hearing them discuss the difficulties that the Netherlands are facing and some of the problems that come along with having a transportation system focused on public transit and cycling.
One of the biggest problems they are facing now is where to park the bikes, especially at train stations. Depending on the train station you are using, you may have some difficulty finding somewhere to legally park your bike. In Delft, it was a very simple process. The bike parking was located directly underneath the station, allowing you to ride in, park your bike, and be on the train platform within a few minutes. In other stations, like Amsterdam Central Station, it may take you 10 minutes to find a spot to park a bike there due to the lack of a large parking facility to accommodate the tremendous amount of people that cycle to the station every day. If necessary, you can also bring your bike onto the train. As I understand, doing this adds an extra fee to your train ticket. I did not see many people do this, though. The ones that did bring their bike on the train had the compact, collapsible bikes that could easily be brought on board. I think most people don’t bring their bikes because of the bike share system that exists at all of the train stations. Using the OVfiets card, which is used to access the transit systems, you can borrow a bike from the train station to use for the last leg of your commute. They really do have a remarkable system in place that allows travel to any urban center and some rural areas without the use of an automobile.
The Dutch didn’t just focus on building an expansive network. Responsiveness and reliability were also important factors. To ensure people would want to use transit over an automobile, it was important that they’re transit system was efficient. Most inter-regional trains run every 10-15 minutes, and their tram lines and buses have wait times of 5-10 minutes. It is also amazing how the different regions work together to form a complete network with consistency between the regions. Also, to increase use in new developments, the transit system is sometimes established within new residential areas prior to people moving into those areas. This ensures that people do not form habits of driving while the transit system is being established. All of this shows the depth and detail of the Dutch transit system and the way professionals aim to integrate the system with the cycling network. They are lightyears ahead of the US in terms of establishing complete transit networks, but their success gives us hope for our future.