Utrecht wants to ban taxis from part of the tram track. For example, taxis in the direction of the Leidseveertunnel will no longer be welcome. It would be unsafe for them to drive one behind the other there. However, taxi entrepreneurs are fighting this and are also angry because the new situation causes more travel time and costs.

The province of Utrecht has been working on connecting the tram lines for some time. Nieuwegein and IJsselstein with the tram lines to Utrecht Science Park. A tram track has been constructed between the Utrecht Centraal Jaarbeursplein and Centrumzijde tram stops during the construction of the so-called Uithoflijn. This runs through the Leidseveertunnel and over the flyover, which has been used by buses, trams and taxis for decades. This is an important connection between the center and the west side of the city where passenger cars are not allowed.

When trams with passengers are going to run on this line in July 30, taxis are no longer welcome there either. The province of Utrecht states that independent research by external agencies has shown that allowing taxis on tram tracks is dangerous. “These results have been critically examined by the Transport Management Link project team and submitted to the safety board of the tram company and the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), who endorse the results,” said a spokesperson for the province.

Three to four times as long over a journey Taxis must therefore drive through the parallel running Daalsetunnel just like regular traffic. Interest organization Taxiplatform Regio Utrecht (TRU) states that this will make their journeys three to four times longer, because traffic is always fixed here. “Buses and trams drive through the Leidseveertunnel and via the flyover for a reason, because you can continue driving there.”

Rob Tweehuijzen, owner of Taxi Bunnik and board member at TRU, took the test on the sum. “On Friday I drove back from the Papendorp business area near the A2 to the Holiday Inn hotel on Jaarbeursplein. That took me 10 minutes. There was a nice evening rush hour because it was late night shopping. Monday morning I took the same route but via the Leidseveertunnel. Then it took me nine minutes.”

Pilot to assess safety This difference in time will also translate in the costs for the customer and the taxi operator himself, he says. “You lose a customer if you have such a long arrival time.” The TRU therefore entered into discussions with the municipality a few years ago, which resulted in the idea of ​​conducting a pilot study to investigate the safety of taxis on the tram and bus lanes.

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The interest group was very satisfied with this and the public transport company also saw no problem, according to Tweehuijzen. However, the province did not agree. Crossing the tram track in this direction would create too many safety risks. “The province believes that many accidents occur with taxis, trams and buses on public transport runways,” says Tweehuijzen. “We checked this in several cities. This showed that taxis are rarely involved. And if this were the case, it would not have been with trams or buses.”

Taxi and public transport interests run parallel The municipality and the province have looked at the maximum possible to accommodate the taxis. On the basis of this, it has been decided that the passage for taxis from the center of the city in the direction of Jaarbeurs is permitted, subject to an overtaking ban and a maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour. According to the province, this will be monitored.

The test phase with the new tram track has now started. “A tram now runs very carefully once, twice or three times a week,” says Tweehuijzen. Only in the final phase of the project will taxis be allowed to pass through the Leidseveertunnel in one direction only. The aim of the province is to only do this once the trams actually drive through the tunnel with passengers. This is expected to be from March 30 and only on Saturdays. From the start of the summer timetable in July 2022, trams with passengers will run on all days of the week.

Taxi and public transport interests run parallel At the moment taxis are still allowed in both directions. Tweehuijzen states that he has already driven behind a tram a few times in the tunnel, without any difficulty or problems. The TRU therefore hopes that they will be able to allay the fear of taxis in this test phase. “It is crucial for us that we are allowed there, just like for the buses and the tram. We all want satisfied customers and as many people as possible to get out of the car in order to have fewer emissions in the city. And all this as quickly and safely as possible. Yet it is apparently not clear until now that our interests and those of public transport run parallel and do not conflict.”

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