Local residents remain disgruntled despite taxi ban

A taxi ban to fight noise complaints from local residents in Groningen can create higher prices and longer times for taxi rides, and the noise might still go on.

Until last week taxis that were allowed to operate in the area of Groningen could use the Koeriersterweg’s temporary bridge that connects the bus lane with the Central Station.

The installation of the temporary bridge last year was the trigger of many noise complains by the residents around it. The main problem was the gap between the bridge and the street, which would create a bouncing sound every time buses and taxis drove on it. According to the local government, this was solved last May.

Speed also contributed to the noise, and speed measurements showed that taxis were constantly violating the speed limit. The local government decided to ban taxis from the bus lane last September 12, after two warnings and no improvement.

Albert Schurer, co-owner of Taxi Centrale in Groningen, was critical of the local government’s ban, suggesting that “the good ones would not suffer” if those caught speeding were punished with speeding tickets.

“Now it can be more expensive for the customer and it takes more time to get to your destination” Schurer told The Scoop. Depending on traffic and time, a ride that used to cost 15 euros can now reach 23 euros.

This is a “one-way solution,” normally different sides need to talk to each other to find a solution and in this case they didn’t, he added.

“Unfortunately, the taxi industry in Groningen is not centrally organised,” said Alderman Paul de Rook’s spokesperson Floor Olijve. “The absence of a central point of contact is also something we regret”, she added.

“When it comes to giving out speeding tickets, the proper authority lies with the police. This does not fall under the jurisdiction of the municipality”, said spokeswoman Olijve.

“Rewarding good behavior stimulates people. Punishing the ‘good guys’ leads to less faith in authorities,” Hubert Andela from The Royal Dutch Transport Federation told The Scoop.

Taxi drivers have a responsibility to drive safely and obey traffic laws, but it is too bad that all taxis were banned from the bus lane, added Andela.

The temporary bridge is to be active at least until 2020 when the project is finalized. A tunnel for the normal traffic will be going under the bus lane and the bridge will be removed so traffic flow moves easier.

In spite of the local government’s attempt to solve the noise complaint in the area, the problem still persists.

“The busses make the most noise,” Audrey Wijnberg said to The Scoop. Wijnberg lives in front of the temporary bridge in Koeriersterweg.

“It is an improvement but it is not enough”, said Wijnberg in reference to the taxi ban.

The problem in the area is not only the noise. The vibrations that cars and busses create when driving in and out of the temporary bridge are still a big problem according to Wijnberg and other neighbours.

The vibration not only adds to the noise but it also creates material damages. The vibrations can result in unevenness and cracks, Wijnberg added. Her house has already suffered from this type of damage.

The government said that they fixed the problem, but the noise and the vibrations are still happening, Wijnberg added.



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