D’Hooge: ‘Multi-modal hubs to alleviate traffic’
Alexander D’Hooge, Professor Urbanization at MIT Boston University, says multi-modal hubs in the suburbs could improve mobility in Flanders. People would drive their car to one of those hubs and continue their journey into the city on whatever mode of transport suits their needs.
At the hubs, not only traditional public transport and bikes but also solutions like shared on-demand rides should be available. These shared rides should get access to bus lanes to be competitive.
In the countryside, public transport is useless, according to D’Hooge. “Large buses don’t have a point when people live too far from the stops. I have yet to see efficient public transport in the countryside.”
Antwerp and Brussels
D’Hooge sees a complementary solution in shared on-demand mobility, like Via offers in New York. The app continually looks at who is going where, trying to bundle journeys and filling cars with 3 to 5 people. The advantage, according to D’Hooge, is that it takes three vehicles off the road, contrary to Uber. The shared ride system can only be competitive when it can use a free lane. Therefore, D’Hooge suggests allowing them to use the bus lanes.
D’Hooghe only sees advantages in his idea of ‘seamless, decentralized mobility’. “You don’t need huge infrastructure works, only free lanes, and multi-modal stations. You also have to allow private companies to operate shared buses.”
On average, people in Antwerp lose 34 minutes a day due to congestion. In Brussels, people even lose 44 minutes. Especially the north side of the city should be addressed to alleviate the situation in Brussels. The study proposes park-and-ride zones along the E19 highway, one in Peutie and one in Grimbergen/Strombeek-Bever. Two large hubs with parking facilities could be installed near the Vilvoorde train station and Brussels Airport. Two small hubs at the Zaventem train station and Brucargo, along with multimodal hubs in Schaarbeek and Bordet could complete the plan.
For Antwerp, researchers also look at the north side of the city. Park-and-ride facilities are already being prepared in the Havana neighborhood at the A12 exit, near the E19 exit in Merksem, and the Bosuil. D’Hooge also suggests multi-modal hubs at Luchtbal and Schijnpoort.
The concept could be a solution for the vast mobility demand in areas that are neither urban nor suburban, like Vilvoorde, Machelen, and Haren. Those areas are too built-up to let a lot of cars pass through, but not enough to make public transport efficient. Everybody is stuck in the car.
D’Hooge says his idea is only a hypothesis, not a thorough plan with concrete calculations. The chance of making a breakthrough in Flanders is very uncertain. The comprehensive research will be officially presented next week, at the yearly Knokke-Heist Realty convention for policymakers, architects, and project developers.