Included in the contract: take the tram when you go to work May 02, 2018
Prof.dr.ir Tom BELLEMANS
Traffic jams and parking stress. This is not a fun way to start a day at work. A construction company asks her employees contractually to take the public transport. In this way, the company also wants to reduce the disturbance to neighbours. This is a logical evolution, say experts. “However, this is not a solution for the problems regarding traffic jam”, says Prof. Dr Tom Bellemans of the Transportation Research Institute (IMOB/UHasselt).
“Please park your car in the urban fridge and take the public transport to the construction site in the town centre.” That is stated in the contracts that construction company Denys from Wendelgem concluded with subcontractors and own personal for the restoration of the historical trade fair in Antwerp, which is located right in the centre, between shopping district Meir and Lange Nieuwstraat. The location is difficult to reach and finding a parking spot is hell.
“Altogether, we have about a hundred workers at this construction site”, says project leader Yannick Stevens. “They produce extra traffic in the neighbourhood. Sometimes, they also park where this is not allowed or where it impedes the inhabitants. That is why we advise them via the contracts to use the park and ride parking places. Nevertheless, the tram stops right in front of the building site.”
“The employees are not obliged to use the tram. I can hardly put them all personally in the tram, right?”, says Stevens. “The ones that decide to still use the car to drive to the city centre, do that on their own responsibility, but almost nobody does that. There was a little grumbling the first week after the announcement, but now most of the employees see the benefits of it.”
The idea is unique in Flanders. The Federation of Belgian Enterprises (VBO) and employers’ organization Voka have no knowledge about similar initiatives. “Clearly, specific agreements have been made here between employer and employee”, says VBO-spokesman Bart Croes. In this case: Denys pays the costs for the tram rides of the employees.
Professor in labour law Marc De Vos (Ghent University) sees an unusual, but logical evolution. “Employers and employees make agreements. Mobility is a part of that.”
Less traffic jams?
However, it is not a solution for the problem of traffic jam. “The employees avoid the traffic jam, that is true”, says professor in Transportation Sciences Tom Bellemans (Hasselt University). ‘But that there are 50 cars less in the traffic jam, does not make a significant difference.” Although, it opens some doors to the future. The construction company also wants to use this part of the contract with other construction sites. “This depends on the accessibility of the public transport”, so says Stevens.