Background and request for advice
Transport is a major problem in the Netherlands. Traffic congestion is worsening, both in the major urban areas and on the motorways. At the same time, the Netherlands’ commitment to the Paris agreement means that transport must be made more sustainable. Moreover, the rapid development of new technologies, business models and social structures increases the uncertainties surrounding long-term activities such as the planning and construction of new infrastructure. These issues require urgent attention.
Every year, billions of euros are needed for the construction, management and maintenance of infrastructure. The need for careful decision-making about the use of these resources has brought about a practice of meticulous long-term planning. This process has created clarity, but at the cost of flexibility.
The formidable accessibility and sustainability challenges and the unpredictability and pace of technological and social change, coupled with the high financial stakes, prompted Rli to prepare this advisory report. The Council will explore how the resources for construction, replacement, management and maintenance of transport infrastructure can be used more efficiently [Rli: elsewhere you use effectively] and flexibly, while at the same time serving sustainability goals. This goes beyond improving infrastructure planning efficiency; it is also about transport alternatives – including virtual solutions in the area of traffic management and smart mobility.
The main question to be answered is:
Given all the uncertainties, how can the available resources for transport (i.e. for construction, replacement, management and maintenance) be used more effectively and flexibly, while at the same time making transport more sustainable?
- What should the contours of a new assessment framework be?
- What new networks and parties would be needed for this?
- What obstacles currently prevent the effective and flexible use of resources?
- How can these obstacles be overcome?
In its advisory report ‘Faster and Closer’, the Rli identified a number of obstacles and barriers to the effective and flexible use of financial resources, and expects that more probably exist in practice. In its new advice, the Council will explore the various obstacles and the ways they interact on a case-by-case basis. The insights obtained will allow the Council to reflect on how to improve the current system of transport planning. The Council will take a bottom-up approach by examining a specific mobility issue in a particular region and then considering options to make transport provision more flexible. The Council believes that this method will provide better insights into possible solutions as well as the barriers to their introduction and the constraints on flexibility in the future. In addition, the Council wishes to see if there are solutions that have not been considered (or, in the case of new transport issues, would remain unnoticed).
The Council also wishes to pay particular attention to how these potential solutions could make transport more sustainable, since the transition to a sustainable environment will be one of the most pressing issues in the upcoming decades.
The Council wishes to emphasise that it acknowledges and values the reasoning behind current assessment frameworks and political processes. There are good reasons why the current systems evolved as they did, and they should not be overhauled without due cause. The Council wishes to strike a careful balance between measures to enhance effectiveness and flexibility and the rationale of the current systems and assessment frameworks.
The expected publication date is in early 2018.
Members of the advisory committee
Professor Lorike Hagdorn (chair)
Dr Co Verdaas
For more information or to respond, please contact Folmer de Haan, project leader, firstname.lastname@example.org.