Rotterdam’s tram network will be reorganised over the coming years. One of the changes is the shortening of line 7, which runs between Rotterdam Central and the university. After the modification, tram 7 will stop in Crooswijk and no longer pass through Kralingen. According to the municipality, not enough people travel by tram on this route. The Kralingen-Oost residents’ association has started a petition to keep the tram. Travellers at the tram stop near the university also voice their dissatisfaction. Whether or not they themselves will be affected, students and staff are not keen on this change.

Dependent on the tram

“Terrible, who would come up with such an idea?” Marijke Poppelaars, secretary at the Legal Affairs department, is not happy about the shortening of the tram line. She takes public transport from Hellevoetsluis to campus twice a week. “If the tram disappears, I will have to transfer at Oostplein and walk quite a bit farther. In good weather that’s not a problem, but the weather isn’t always nice.” She sees the tram as an important means for students and staff to reach the university. “I’ll be signing the petition.”

Joris Elderson (21, Law) does not have the impression there are few passengers on tram 7. “If it’s actually true that very few people take this tram I think it’s justifiable, but I don’t think that’s the case.” He goes to campus two or three times a week and is fairly dependent on the tram. “I cycle to the Meent and then catch a tram to university. I could cycle the whole stretch but that’s just a bit too far, so I’d rather not.”

Hannah (21, International Business Administration) rarely takes the tram in normal circumstances, but an injury currently prevents her from cycling when it’s raining. “It’s a nuisance to lose this option. Suppose your bike breaks down or gets stolen: then it’s nice to be able to take the tram.”

Fare dodging

Yazan Marashdeh (20, International Bachelor of Economics and Business Economics) wonders if the municipality has an accurate picture of how much the tram is actually used: “It’s a student line, which means many people don’t touch in. Maybe the municipality is unaware of how many people actually take this tram.” He rides it almost daily and regularly avoids paying: “I only touch in when I see inspectors.” Yazan thinks he would go to campus less often if there were no tram and thinks it’s a great loss: “I like the tram and I don’t see the point of taking it away. The tracks are already there; how much money can they really save?”

“It’s a cost-cutting measure, plain and simple”, says Bernard Kats, secretary of the Kralingen-Oost residents’ association. “And this at a time when the city is growing and the population is ageing”. Kats denounces the municipality’s philosophy of profit: “It doesn’t work in the case of public transport, which is a public utility.”

Easy cuts

The municipality wants to replace the trams with buses, something Kats is not in favour of, especially in view of people with mobility problems: “Just try getting on the bus with a walker.” If trams are replaced by buses, his association fears for the future of public transport in Kralingen. After all, buses are easily scrapped when making cuts: “That’s done in the blink of an eye, of course. If the bus is also underused, it’s easy to decide to end the service altogether.”  Nor is the metro an alternative, according to the residents’ association, as only a single metro station (Voorschoterlaan) lies within reach of Kralingen.

The municipality believes removing the tram tracks will improve road safety for cyclists by preventing tram accidents and allowing for speed humps. The Kralingen-Oost residents’ association, however, is sceptical, fearing that the Oudedijk and ’s Gravenweg roads will turn into race tracks. “Trams slow things down a bit and calm down the traffic”, says Kats. In his view, the plans are unsound. “We can’t fathom it. Why remove a tram line that’s been there for 130 years?”

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