Flemish Minister of Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) wants to accelerate the rollout of the Basic Accessibility Plan. A complete reorganization of public transport and to align all levels of it. The concept was launched in 2015, and approved in 2019, but never realized.
After several delays and adjustments to the timing, Minister Peeters now announced the new deadline is July 2023. Therefore, she prefers a phased, progressive approach instead of the ‘big bang’, she said during the press conference on Thursday, referring to one particular moment to turn the mobility switch.
The idea was to increase the offer of demand-driven public transport and ‘combi mobility’ (combined mobility), the possibility to easily switch from one means of transport to the other. However, realizing the project seemed to be far more complicated than expected.
“We must start the phased rollout as rapidly as possible,” she explained. “The starting point is the existing public transport offer; then we have to add other flexible means of transport to prevent blind spots in Flanders.”
Flanders’ public transport company De Lijn will get a broader assignment and has to gear all transport levels to each other. After a benchmark study, the company was appointed as the manager of the transport system and operator of the core network and additional transport.
In the meantime, the 15 transport regions in Flanders (Flanders was divided into 15 transport regions in 2019 e.n.) have indicated 1976 future Hoppin points and selected more than 30 000 stops in the context of the new public transport plans. De Lijn will manage the stops.
‘Combi mobility’ will be stimulated with recognizable mobility hubs or ‘Hoppin points’ as they are called. The Hoppin center will bundle all transport options and match passengers’ supply and demand.
The so-called ‘combi points’ or Hopppin points will be strategic points where passengers can easily hop on the train or bus or can unlock a shared bike or e-scooter. Meanwhile, Flanders has realized some fifty Hoppin points; nine are in preparation.
The lowest transport level will be bespoke transport (Vervoer op Maat, VOM). VOM will be complementary and will prevent ‘blind spots’ or transport-less zones in outlying areas. VOM will meet specific and individual mobility needs and will combine flex(ible) and semi-flex transport and shared mobility.
The entire project contains several challenges. One of them will be the coverage of the Limburg province. “Limburg is the most car-dependent province,” Minister Peeters explains. “The lack of public transport in Limburg has been a problem for years. Now, the challenge is ensuring that public transport will be available in all remote corners of the province.”
“Realizing the Basic Accessibility Plan successfully is only possible by joining forces and setting the bar high enough,” Minister Peeters concluded. The idea is to focus attention on the passenger, giving the modal shift a boost and bringing the MaaS (Mobility as a Service) principle to life in Flanders. “We have to bundle all public transport solutions and make combined mobility simpler and easier.”