Royal visit to Publiek Vervoer Groningen Drenthe
On Tuesday December 3, 2019, His Majesty the King of the Netherlands, Willem Alexander, visited Publiek Vervoer Groningen Drenthe and OV-bureau Groningen Drenthe. For this visit he traveled to Assen. He was introduced to the people behind this unique collaboration, the intention was to meet and talk to people connected with this unique project. His Majesty the King's unexpected visit was in preparation for his New Year's speech in which he will talk about Publiek Vervoer and OV-bureau Groningen Drenthe. Both directors have been invited to attend this speech on January 14, 2020.
His Majesty the King arrived in Assen at 1 p.m., where he was welcomed by both directors and mayor Marco Out. He then entered into discussions with a number of representatives from local and regional authorities and transport companies. He spoke with them about the collaboration between Publiek Vervoer, public transport and about the possibilities of dynamic travel information if we use open data to improve services. In this conversation, we pointed out to the King that this unique collaboration between municipalities, provinces, Publiek Vervoer, OV-bureau and transporters took place within the Interreg North Sea Region Stronger Combined project.
The King was then given a tour through the building and spoke with various colleagues about various topics. The first topic was about smarter traffic/driving. By collecting real-time data, we can make better use of our buses and run more efficiently. For the traveler this means that this data is converted into better travel information. The King then spoke with three colleagues who showed him how traveling can be made way easier. How travelers can travel without obstacles. For example, with an online travel platform. People then see how busy it is on the bus, they can pay for the entire trip in one go, even if they have to transfer and they receive personal travel advice. An additional advantage of this is that we receive a lot of information about travel behavior. This allows us to improve services and provide tailor-made travel offers.
For Publiek Vervoer, the mutual relationships and coordination between the 24 municipalities are very important. After all, we must continue to ensure that we are heading in the same direction. So that we can continue to build into the future. Our relationship managers play an important role in this. That is why the King also spoke with one of the relationship managers. She gave him a picture of the work of a relationship manager at Publiek Vervoer. A visit to the Complaints and Compliment Desk was also essential. Collecting all complaints is an important task of Publiek Vervoer because this way we gain insight into how we can constantly improve the services of Publiek Vervoer. All complaints (and compliments) arrive at this counter. The King noticed that it was a small office. Which, by the way, did not mean that there were no complaints. The colleague told the King about the number of complaints and what the most common complaints are.
Then the King boarded a hydrogen bus for a short drive through the center of Assen. This bus is used for various routes. Along the way he spoke with a number of drivers and other colleagues about driving in hydrogen buses. He also looked at a number of other environmentally friendly vehicles parked at the entrance of the building. This was important to show how involved we are with the environment. From December 2019, public bus transport in Groningen and Drenthe will be almost completely emission-free and the aim is to be 100% emission-free by 2030. The taxis and buses that are used for Publiek Vervoer also connect with this. The first hydrogen taxi is already running in northern Groningen.
Upon returning, the conversation continued with a number of travelers from both Publiek Vervoer and OV-bureau Groningen Drenthe. After all, that's what we do it for: what do they actually think is how we do it. They shared their experiences with the King. Finally, the afternoon ended with an informal drink with the King and people who had played a role during his visit.
We look back on a good and positive visit and think that we have given the King a good idea about this unique collaboration. The visit went well, and the people were enthusiastic. Truly a reward for our work.