And now – congratulations! Yet another record achieved. “We have never driven as many kilometers in a year as we have this past year.” Yeah, so we drive a lot more often. And for statistics, we consulted the CBS. They are known for their boring reports, but they also make boring videos. In 2017 we have traveled about 148 billion kilometers by car or other motor vehicles. That equals 500 trips to the sun and back. Correct. And when you take a very close look, you can see the camera man sitting next to her. That’s a bit sloppy; it kind of ruins the story. I always say: Never show how you make television. I personally never do so. A little higher please. All this driving has certain consequences. [Erwin de Hart (ANWB) says: “Busy.” Veeery busy. So busy that it’s reached a record. Go ahead and laugh, but it meant 220 traffic jams; 1060 kilometers of it. If even the radio DJs, who listen to the traffic news every single day, are shocked by the number of traffic jams, then there really must be a lot of traffic jams indeed. As if you’re visiting your GP and even he says: “Wow, wtf is THAT?!” Last week, there even was a so-called horror evening rush hour with a total of 1135 kilometers of traffic jam. To give you an impression of how long that is: Maarten van der Weijden (Dutch swimmer) would already give up after 15% of it. “Yes, then you’re at the junction of ‘Hoevelaken’ and you’re just completely stuck. But I’m still very content with all the support of so many-” YEEESS we already know that by now! And in the following years, we will only get into more and more traffic jam. “In 2017, the total of time that people spent being stuck in traffic jam was 63 million hours. In 2023, this will be prolonged to an estimated 85 million hours.”
Wow. “Darling, I’ll be home 85 million hours later. Yeah. Traffic jam delay. Just start eating dinner already. You know what? Just start another family already. Tell our kids that I love them. Oh wait, we’re moving again!” [Vroom] The time loss due to traveling will probably increase with a third during the upcoming few years. Imagine how silly that actually is: Everybody’s busy, everything goes faster, we’re scheduling our daily lives very efficiently, just not this part, despite the fact that traffic jams ALWAYS suck! Well, always…? The first traffic jam in the Netherlands was quite a lot of fun. That was in 1957. “The highways, which weren’t built for such crowds, all traffic got stuck. All of the city of Velsen came over to take a closer look. Not one single driver grumbled about the delay. Everyone just patiently drove on in the slowly moving queue of vehicles.”
Wow, that was so much fun. People came all the way to the highway to watch the traffic jam. But that was only one time. The very next time, people were like: “Oh for god’s sake, why me?!” [horn] “You idiot, with your Datsun! Drive faster, I’ll be too late to put the bins out! HELLO!” [horn] That’s how things went back then. And ever since then we have gotten electric toothbrushes, computers, smartphones… My thermostat knows I’m leaving work so my house will be nice and warm when I get home… so my house will be nice and warm when I get home… Only that will be an hour later because there is still traffic jam! And in all that time, has nobody come up with a solution? Well, yes. We’ll switch to a professor of transport policy. And where do you find one of those? In the side ditches, mostly.
“There is no measure more effective than entering mileage tax, of which the percentage of tax depends on where and when you’re on the road. Mileage tax would put an end to approximately half the amount of traffic jam.” Yes, mileage tax. And not an ordinary mileage tax, but one of which the costs depend on the time and area you drive through: a rush hour tax. Who wants to pass through a very busy area during rush hour has to pay a couple of euro’s for his passage. This concept is very simple: a highway can handle a certain number of cars but at a certain point, a critical line gets crossed and the result of that is traffic jam. If one would succeed to get 5 or 10% of the cars off the road, there would be so much less traffic jam! The purpose of rush hour tax is therefore not to collect more tax money. In fact, the costs of standard road tax could even be lowered. But the goal is that a part of the people on the road will decide to avoid busy areas so that the rest of the traffic can move on more easily. And that this is possible (and works) has been proven in Sweden. See, in Sweden there are two ways to get traffic off the roads: rush hour tax or a big moose. Splendid…
And not just in Stockholm, also in London, Singapore and a couple of Norwegian cities this works out really well. A downside is that some people don’t have a choice. They HAVE to be at work at 8:30AM. But most of the morning and evening rush hour traffic has nothing to do with commuting. And to reduce the amount of traffic jam, only a very small part of the people needs to decide to not bring their dog to swimming classes during rush hour. And that sounds good, but is also true. “It sounds almost too good to be true: we could rid ourselves of half of the traffic jam in a split second! But if so, we must want it.”
First of all: we MUST do nothing! Secondly: I want this. Because standing still on the road all the time is annoying. “The standing-still on the road is not only annoying, [Traffic jam – don’t get me started!] transport companies lose money over it every single day. ‘We stand still on the road for about 2 hours. That means 2 hours per employee. That is about 60 euro’s of holiday pay. So yeah, 25 times 60 is 1500 euro’s per day’.” Wow! During traffic jam, this guy developed some serious mental artithmetic skills! But what he’s saying is correct. Traffic jam and delay costs the Dutch economy 2,3 billion euro’s every year. So you might think: ‘Let’s just enter rush hour tax right now! Less traffic jam – everybody wants that.’ Well, unfortunately not everybody. This guy, for example. The VVD and therefore most of the government is fiercely against the concept of rush hour tax – which I find most peculiar, because the VVD is against traffic jam since they’re a real “car party”. I sometimes call them the [vroooom party]. Alright, that’s a pun. Rutte, Minister-President: “The next point of discussion is, of course, the car. We naturally remain the car party, the vroooom party, and so we should. So, the vroooom party. They are really really fierce proponents of cars. They call every act which hurts car owners in any sort of way ‘driver-bullying’.
This is what they say on their website: “Through excise duties and fines, car drivers are the ones who fill up most governmental money-boxes. We want this to end.”
Hang on, you want fines to end?
The VVD loves cars so much that they’re against traffic fines? “Excuse me, sir. You were driving 260 km/h through a residential area.” “Excellent job, keep up the good work!” I bet you’re an entrepreneur, aren’t you? Nice! Lovely hanger for your suit jacket on the back of your driver’s seat. Wonderful! Well, vroom vroom. Bye!” And especially THAT party is against the only solution for traffic jam. They don’t even want to talk about it at all. Look, even on VVD.nl. “We were, are and will remain against mileage tax. Research points out it doesn’t even work at all.”
Whatever research that is is not revealed. It was probably: “Jan-Willem! Mileage tax! That doesn’t work, right?” “I’m shitting right now, but I don’t think so.” “Alright, I’ll put it online!” So the VVD absolutely doesn’t want pay-driving, no rush hour tax, no mileage tax. And in a way I get that, because those words just sound off. You know, ‘pay’ and ‘tax’…
And that’s why we need to make them sound more appealing. VVD proof. And also clarifying that you’re paying for something good. For saving time. Something like…
“Drive-on-Dooku.” Or, uh… “Race bonus” Or why don’t we just call it [vroempoen] (vroom money/vroom-moolah). And for some reason, the VVD doesn’t want any ‘vroom-moolah’ to solve the traffic jam issue.
So what DO they want? “To fight traffic jam, the government will continue creating more lanes and new roads during the years to come. From 2018 till 2030, the government has set up a budget of 19 billion euro’s for this.” The VVD wants more asphalt, which is very expensive, while according to our professor in the ditch, rush hour tax is much more effective. During the past few years, 700 km of roads were added to our road system. And yet the overall traffic jam has only gotten worse.
That’s because there are more cars on the roads which is a result of the newly constructed roads. This professor of Spatial Economics, Erik Verhoef, explains why that is the case.
And he has a good view on it, because he’s standing next to a highway. “More asphalt – we all know that only works temporarily, We also know it creates another demand for more on the long-term.”
– “So it’s not a long-term solution?” “No.'” It’s a short-term solution. Just like throwing your labrador out of the window. Advantage: he’s finally quiet. Disadvantage: your buddy is dead. More asphalt is not a long-term solution, because once the traffic jam is gone, the highways become an option again for the people who were avoiding rush hour. And after a while the queue has grown just as long again, and wider too. Why is the VVD so fiercely against ‘vroom-moolah’? Well, listen to VVD-member Annemarie Jorritsma in 1990. As usual in the ninety’s, she’s getting interviewed by a toucan. “Pay-driving. What’s your opinion on that? What do you think?”
– “Well, we think pay-driving is getting very complicated because the technique is extraordinary complicated. It hasn’t even been developed yet. The costs are gigantic and I even think they’re estimated somewhat optimistically.”
– “360 million euros?” Wow. That toucan was extraordinarily well-informed. This was in 1990, when discussion with the VVD about [vroempoen] was still possible. In this age, they just put it into the coalition agreement report every four years. Look at the agreement of Rutte-3: They want to experiment with traffic and payment without a chance of this leading to a system of pay-driving. Rutte-2: “There will be no mileage tax!” Agreement of Rutte-1: “No mileage tax!” That’s rather smart.
I too always write down the things that I’m NOT going to do. For tomorrow on the list: again not cleaning up the shed. Every Monday, I don’t do that – it has become some sort of a tradition. The VVD has been against mileage tax for years. Their favorite coalition friend CDA is also against it. “I can tell you, if mileage tax will become real, the Netherlands will become very angry, because then they will have to spend time in traffic jam and pay for it as well.”
Hey, Buma! So clever of you. But the idea is that mileage tax reduces the amount of time you spend in traffic jam. The CDA just doesn’t get that pay-driving is measure to battle traffic jam. “All of us find traffic jam annoying.
The worst punishment we could get is having to sit in a car for an extra 50 minutes. Do we really think that also charging those people an additional 5 euros will make them leave the car at home?” What kind of reasoning is that? “It’s raining. Do you want an umbrella?” – “No way, then I will be wet AND I have to carry the damn thing.” Another union that’s against [vroempoen] is the ANWB (Dutch organization for traffic and tourism). In 1990, the ANWB boss was interviewed by an, uh… Well, it were the nineties, so you’ll understand… “So you don’t want mileage tax? That’s all fine, but do you have any better suggestions?” “Better public transport, removing difficulties in certain areas, and, for example, a good parking policy in major cities.” So also the ANWB suggests literally everything EXCEPT mileage tax. From the very beginning, they’re fiercely against every form of pay-driving. How fierce?
“The ANWB has opposed pay-driving for years. Here in the main hall of the head office, they have even devoted an exhibition to their beliefs.” An exhibition about the fact that they’re against it? But of course, I do that as well…
“Honey, are you coming with me to my parents?” “No, I’m definitely not feeling up for that.”
“Why not?” “I’ll show you my exhibition…” “Look, here’s your dad.” Except the VVD, CDA and ANWB, there is another [vroempoen] hater: De Telegraaf (newspaper), which has been the spokesperson for the resistance for years. As soon as anything comes up about pay-driving or mileage taxes, rush hour tax or soon, hopefully, [vroempoen], then De Telegraaf immediately embarks on an elaborate campaign. “On De Telegraaf’s initiative the mileage tax mostly gets a reputation of the dairy cow of the driver.” Yeah… The only thing De Telegraaf finds worse than discrimination is mileage taxes. If De Telegraaf had to choose between mileage taxes or that Silvana Simons would play St. Nicolaus from now on they will say: “She will just keep a beard, right? No, she won’t? Allright, allright, just NO mileage taxes!” [Vroempoen] is THE solution for the growing traffic jam problem but the VVD, CDA and Telegraaf block everything like a Swedish moose. You might ask: “Arjen, is it even possible technically?”
Well, I have good news for you. In the province of Brabant they solved that in 2009 already. “Entreprises in Brabant show us a glimpse that it is technically possible. “As a region we want to show that political decisions must indeed be made, but technically everything the government could possibly want – privacy, costs etc. – is possible.” Exactly! It’s her who we need! Who is this and, more importantly: what’s she up to now? “Cora van Nieuwhuizen is the new minister of infrastructure…” Oh thankyou! Well Cora, tell us: technically it is possible, you said that 9 years ago. When will there be mileage taxes? “That will never happen. There will never be pay-driving.” Cora! What happened to you?
Even Rick Nieman from WNL has a breakdown after seeing such irrationality. “All experts say there is ONE thing you can do… De Telegraaf doesn’t like it, but there is ONE thing you can do… just make driving during rush hour more expensive and people will do that less often. But you still don’t want to do it?” – “No, that is the well-known pay-driving. I dare say it, you see. We will-”
– “But expert say it works.” “Well, no, because I don’t think it is a good way.” But all of the experts say that it helps, Cora!
Please… And I am from WNL, I used to be the anchor from RTL… Come on, Cora, please… No, [vroempoen] is not driver-bullying. Allowing traffic jam to exist, THAT is driver-bullying. Of course, pay-driving will cost drivers money, but standing still in traffic jam robs us of time, and time is money. If the VVD really is a party for the entrepreneurs amongst us, they would understand that. And yet in the coalition agreement, the VVD has strongly boarded up that nothing about the taxes will ever change, with full approval of their traffic jam buddies of the CDA and De Telegraaf. And that’s why we asked all major radio stations if they want to help us.
Then the people in traffic jam will hear why they’re in traffic jam.
And all of these radio deejays we’re willing to help us out.
So tomorrow after the traffic news with Giel Beelen of Veronica, Ruud de Wild etc. In all of their broadcasts you will hear this tomorrow after the traffic news: “These traffic jams were brought to you by the Dutch government; Driver-bullying. VROOM VROOM!”