The European Commission has approved the state aid notification submitted by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to be able to pay the availability fee to public transport companies. With the availability fee, public transport companies are compensated for the costs they incur to run buses, trains and metros during the corona crisis. The transport companies are expected to receive the first advances this month. This is reported by the national government through this message on their website.
State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven calls it an important step that the European Commission agrees with the support: “Public transport is a vital sector for the Netherlands. Without public transport, a nurse cannot come to work in the hospital and an informal caregiver cannot travel to a family member who needs help. During this crisis it is crucial that people who rely on public transport can continue to use it. ”
Compensation of costs
With the availability payment, the cabinet will bear more than 90% of the costs incurred by public transport companies during this crisis. 1,5 billion euros has been reserved for this year and 2021 million euros for the first half of 740.
Due to the fall in the number of travelers, the income of the public transport companies has decreased sharply. At the same time, the government has asked carriers to keep timetables up to date so that public transport can continue to fulfill its role as a vital sector.
In addition, public transport companies have had to take measures to minimize the risk of contamination with the corona virus while traveling by public transport. For example, plexiglass screens have been installed in some vehicles, signage has been adapted and extra enforcers have been deployed to enforce the masking obligation.
The availability compensation is not only available for large public transport companies such as the Dutch Railways, but for all carriers who are commissioned by the national government or a decentralized government provides public transport in the Netherlands. In total, this concerns 14 companies that can claim the compensation.
In recent months, discussions have taken place with the European Commission to ensure that the availability compensation can be paid out in accordance with the rules of European law. This has resulted in a state aid notification for the period March to August, which has been approved by the European Commission. For the period from September to the first half of 2021, the concession agreements of the carriers have been adjusted so that a state aid notification is not necessary for this period.