Faster and closer: Urban accessibility demands the breaking down of silos

Current transport policy is too fragmented to keep Dutch urban regions accessible in the future. Although there are now more and more ways to reach a particular destination, the policy and regulative framework makes it difficult to seize the opportunities generated by such innovations. Cooperation between the national government, provinces and municipalities is also wanting. Transport policy focuses too much on new infrastructure and faster trips and not enough on the location of facilities and activities. These are some of the conclusions in the Rli’s advisory report ‘Faster and Closer’ which was presented to the minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen.

Inadequate coordination of policy

Current transport policy and its associated legislation are ill-equipped to deal with changing demands and developments in society. People do more different things in a day than before. At the same time, mobility services, e-bikes and car sharing present new opportunities for people to reach their destination – making accessibility demands increasingly diverse. Current transport policy, by contrast, is geared to supplying infrastructure and focuses on individual transport modes (e.g. train, tram, bus, taxi, car or bicycle). Each mode has its own regulations, financing and fiscal arrangements. The Rli feels that a more integrated approach is needed. To keep our cities accessible in the future, the Rli recommends transforming the confusing mix of taxes, duties and subsidies into a clear framework that puts accessibility first.

Inadequate cooperation between authorities

Public authorities tend to view problems from the perspective of their own legally defined responsibilities, for example as the roads authority, public licensing authority or planning authority. As a result, more attention is paid to improving road and rail infrastructure and to public transport concessions than to planning to make services and urban functions as accessible as possible. The Rli feels that accessibility in urban regions will necessitate more cooperation and more collective investment by the national government, provinces and municipalities.

More attention for spatial solutions

Better accessibility means not only improving mobility, but also making well-considered planning decisions on where we live, work, shop, etc. Not enough attention is being paid to this.

New legislation necessary

The Rli argues for a policy that first and foremost seeks to deliver accessibility, enabling people to undertake as many activities as possible within an acceptable travel time. Progress is already being made to this end within the current legal framework. The Rli argues that not only should this work be continued and intensified, but that a new law be drawn up that integrates the different sectors and transport modes and puts people first. This will enable policy and financial decision-making to strike a better balance between spatial planning and mobility solutions and also allow for the inclusion of new developments (e.g. technological innovations). Part of the new law should be an ‘accessibility check’: when making spatial planning decisions, this check would assess what the best spatial and/or mobility solution would be on the basis of clear accessibility objectives.

Editorial note

The advisory report ‘Faster and Closer: Opportunities for improving accessibility in urban regions’ is available via For more information about the report, please contact Nicole van Buren (project leader),, +31 (0)6 10172005. To request an interview with a board member, please contact Miep Eisner (public relations),, +31 (0)6 15369339.

General information

The Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) is the strategic advisory board for the Dutch government and parliament on the physical environment and infrastructure. The Council is independent and provides advice on request and at its own initiative on long-term issues. The Council is chaired by Ir. Jan Jaap de Graeff.