Southern Netherlands adopting integrated mobility to fight traffic

04 June 2019 7 min. read

The southern provinces of the Netherlands are aiming to improve accessibility and promote innovations in mobility. Under the SmartwayZ.NL umbrella, which runs until 2026, the first results are now apparent, with many more set to follow. Consulting firm AT Osborne is actively involved in this project, providing expertise in the areas of contract management, innovative contracting advice, and programme- and project management.

While the 2008 financial crisis led to hardship throughout the Netherlands, it did however have one positive knock-on effect. The economic downturn caused the number of traffic jams in the country to decrease heavily. Since then, the Dutch economy has recovered well. As could be expected, this recovery has also resulted in a significant increase in congestion. The southern part of the Netherlands, in particular the Eindhoven region (where the economy is experiencing a sharper upturn than elsewhere in the country), today faces a significant traffic burden.

Good traffic flow is essential

A smooth traffic flow is essential for ensuring that the region – which has been singled out by research as one of the ‘smartest' regions in the world – remains attractive in terms of business allocation factors, quality of life and international trade. To improve the flow of traffic and promote innovation, the authorities are working together with private companies and end-users as part of the SmartwayZ.NL programme. The programme consists of eight related sub-projects in the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg that focus on the Breda – Venlo (A58, A2, A67), Weert – Eindhoven (A2) and Veghel – Asten (N279) corridors and the South-East Brabant area.

The aim of the programme is not solely to expand the motorways or resolve traffic bottlenecks. It is also about taking steps towards creating an integrated mobility system in which all stakeholders work together to improve infrastructure and build a sustainable living environment. For instance in the field of traffic management, with transport services (both existing public transport companies and all other providers of [partial] transport modalities) and mobility service providers. These measures should provide travellers with maximum support when it comes to planning, booking, amending, undertaking and paying for a journey based on personal preferences.Southern Netherlands adopting integrated mobility to fight traffic

Smart Mobility: optimum accessibility

In addition to the seven sub-projects designed to tackle specific parts of the region's road network, an eighth sub-project – titled 'Smart Mobility' – is intended to fulfil a more overarching role within the SmartwayZ.NL programme. Serving as a project in itself, it stimulates the other seven sub-projects. “When it comes to Smart Mobility, the traveller is the core around which a network of intelligent mobility systems revolves. The traveller becomes the recipient of smart technologies and services that provide optimum accessibility. The aim is to create the most intelligent road network in Europe that reaches the heart of cities in the southern Netherlands, and involves smaller towns and villages too,” elaborated a spokesperson from SmartwayZ.NL.

The participants in the various SmartwayZ.NL projects and programmes are advised and supported by management consultants from AT Osborne, a Dutch consultancy founded in 2004. “AT Osborne is considered as the knowledge and experience partner in the field of smart mobility and infrastructure projects in regions throughout the Netherlands,” said Floris Bakermans, a consultant at AT Osborne. The firm for instance worked on the massive development of Amsterdam North-South metro line and the delivery of the Utrecht’s new railway station.

Bakermans continued; “We are adding our comprehensive knowledge and experience in contract management, overseeing programmes, contracting advice and project management to bear on this initiative. We are skilled in innovation and handling the uncertain nature of projects of this kind – ones where many stakeholders are involved. This is a complex working environment on which we are putting ambitious projects into practice.”

He explains how important it is to include all stakeholders in the project task: "Internal and external stakeholder management is an essential factor when it comes to realising and successfully carrying out such projects and programmes. While you usually have to deal with the public authorities, market parties, knowledge institutions and end users anyway, Smart Mobility requires intensive involvement from these parties, which calls for stakeholder management across all levels."

Mobility market

The Mobility Market is a sub-project of Smart Mobility. “This project is designed to scale up and expand a broad range of proven, tailored made mobility services,” explained Bakermans. “The mobility services have to contribute to multiple tasks relating to accessibility and quality of life. Another aim is to use it to facilitate the ongoing development towards a comprehensive mobility system and the implementation of Mobility as a Service (MaaS).”

"We have ample knowledge and experience in smart mobility and infrastructure projects in regions throughout the Netherlands and abroad. SmartwayZ.NL brings these areas of expertise together.”

“The focus within the Smart Mobility component is partially on offering mobile applications and alternative transport services for travellers, thus allowing for smarter, more sustainable travel. Through this, we can also help employers to make their mobility policies smarter and more sustainable, which in turn helps their employees,” said Bakermans. “The advice is increasingly tailored to both the local situation and the personal preferences of the traveller or employer in question. This enables all involved to make better decisions regarding smarter and more environmentally-friendly travel. This can also have a positive effect on traffic flow, traffic safety and the local quality of life. New developments in communication between in-vehicle systems and traffic control systems are also improving the situation.”

For the Mobility Market project, AT Osborne consultants are providing expertise in programme- and contract management. “This enables us to help further help the development and upscale the Mobility Market for various sub-projects. We are actively seeking out and implementing new forms of collaboration and procurement between authorities, the business community, scientists and end users. Examples include social design and innovative types of contracting and procurement, as well as collaboration between the various authorities.”

While significant steps have already been made – for example, the A2 Weert – Eindhoven sub-project was nominated for the Climate and Energy Award 2018 by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management – the SmartwayZ.NL project as a whole will still take some time to complete, with the programme set to run until 2026. This means it is important to ensure that the project will be continually adjusted to reflect political, social and technological developments: “We are adopting a step-by-step approach that enables us to take the lessons learned from the previous step and apply them to the following step,” highlighted Bakermans.

He added; “We are also in contact with our partners to stay up to date, and we make sure our project, programme management and contracts are arranged in a way that enables us to seize opportunities to maximum effect in this ever-changing environment. The development towards a sustainable, comprehensive mobility system calls for a structural change in the behaviour of all stakeholders. This provides the energy to take the steps that are essential for achieving these goals in practice.”