A coach in the center of Amsterdam. Heavy coaches of more than 7.5 tons will be banned from the city center from 1 January 2024. Photo: ANP /Koen van Weel

The intention of the municipality of Amsterdam to ban heavy coaches from the center from 2024 has a counterproductive effect. At least, that is what several coach operators who work in the capital think. According to them, there will be more traffic when these overweight coaches (above 7.5 tons) are actually banned.

“I don’t think this is a convenient decision,” responds Van der Pol, director of Touringcarcentrale Amsterdam, to the municipality’s decision to to ban heavy coaches from the center from next year. “I understand that it is too busy in Amsterdam, but dropping off passengers on the edge of the city center just doesn’t work. Certainly not for larger groups.”

Minitouringcars Coach operators will therefore look for other alternatives, thinks Van der Pol. “I expect that entrepreneurs will use three or four mini-coaches instead of one large coach. I think it’s going in that direction, because those mini coaches are still allowed to enter the center. Three or four mini-coaches are of course more polluting than one large coach. In addition, I think that this rule will actually create more traffic movements. You don’t want that, of course, because that is not good for road safety. I think this rule is counterproductive.”

Van der Pol therefore does not think that this measure will help to reduce nuisance in the center of Amsterdam and to promote road safety. “Look at other major Italian cities, such as Rome. There they charge capital for coaches that want to drive into the city center. Then you are talking about five hundred euros a day. Nevertheless, it is still teeming with touring cars. That amount is simply deposited, because people still think: I want to go there. As long as there are still people who want to go to Amsterdam, there is no way to stop the nuisance.”

Nuisance Jego Besseling, director of Bookabus, even wonders whether there is any nuisance at all. “I doubt that. I think people are more bothered by the amount of cars in the center than by coaches.”

Besseling also thinks, like Van der Pol, that this new rule will have the opposite effect. “I agree with that. We also notice that groups of people, for example eighty people, who really want to go to their hotel in areas where coaches are not allowed to go, then use mini-coaches. I don’t quite see how much of a nuisance a large coach causes, compared to four minibuses or ten cars.”

Nevertheless, Besseling indicates that he understands the decision of the municipality of Amsterdam in a certain way. “A lot of the roads and bridges in the inner city are currently not in the best condition. I understand very well that you do not want to let heavy coaches drive over it”, concludes the Bookabus director.

Not desirable The municipality of Amsterdam says it is aware that coach operators will respond to the new situation. However, the municipality calls it “not desirable” if companies exchange their coaches for several and smaller ones. “Because due to the additional increase in traffic in the city center, nuisance and road safety would decrease less,” says the spokesperson for traffic alderman Melanie van der Horst. “We are actually working to keep the heavy traffic out of the busy city center in order to reduce the insecurity and nuisance in the center. We have been discussing this with the coach industry for a long time to include them in our plans.”

Finally, the municipality emphasizes that in the long term there will be less space for the car in Amsterdam anyway. “We want more space for people who live, walk, cycle, play sports, recreate or play in the city. It is therefore important that we enter into dialogue with all users of the city about how we want to organize the city and which transport is ultimately appropriate. We also ask the branches themselves to carefully consider which target group should be transported to the city with which means of transport.”

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