In The Netherlands right wing parties promise more roads to solve the daily traffic jams, while more left leaning parties argue for a tax per kilometer. The Dutch political debate on mobility is not only traditional ‘left-right’, it is also out of date. New policies should focus on electric mobility to solve the much debated traffic jams and reduce CO2 emission.
Flip Oude Weernink, New Mobility Manager
How to make mobility sustainable? The question was hardly heard during the, due to the attention for the populist politician Geert Wilders, internationally widely covered election campaign in The Netherlands. As a result, the answer was also not a topic during the heated televised discussions of politicians. As a result, focus was very much on finding conventional solutions for traffic-jams.
The solutions debated were worrying ineffective from a mobility point of view. More highways, like the right wing parties want, will only increase the traffic on the road and as a result the number of traffic jams. And taxing motorists during early morning and evening rush-hour traffic, will only increase the costs of mobility and in the end push-up prices of services and consumer goods used by the ‘ordinary hard working Dutchmen’.
To update the political debate, Dutch politicians and policy makers should disconnect from their traditional policy frame. In The Netherlands private and lease car users have been central to government regulation. For example, the high penetration of electric and hybride cars in the Dutch market was mainly achieved with large tax cuts for lease cars.
Most people use their car for commuting from home to work and from there to an appointment at a another location. This need for mobility can easily be serviced when people use a shared electric car stationed at or near their work address. For their daily commute they can use public transport or for example an electric bike. As a result, there is no need to spend hours in rush-hour morning or evening traffic.
Within about ten years from now, your car will come automatically to your house to pick you up, at barbecues and parties people like to argue these days. Its striking to see that politicians hardly discuss this realistic (!!) vision of the future. As if politicians are not aware of it. Well, they know about the technology. But they are not familiar with its implications once in use. When care sharing - autonomous or not - becomes a wide spread concept, we can expect it will take 30 to 40 percent of the vehicles from the road. Around 2030, traffic jams will be a vague memory of the 20’th century.
Politicians should consider a fiscal stimulus for electric car sharing. Or make shared charging stations for about ten cars compulsory for new real estate developments. Why the political debate is not about these kind of policies?
Its time to forget about the past and focus on the future of mobility.