Since the ’90’s The Netherlands opted for transporting people with mobility handicaps via a long-distance taxi system, separate from local transportation systems. Originally this Valys-system started with a combination of train and taxirides.
The recent € 60 million tender, organised by the national Health Ministry and won by transportation coordinator Transvision goes ‘back to basics’ and cuts costs: it offers train plus taxi: “We would like to keep Valys durable and affordable for the future”, said Health-minister Van Rijn. “That is important in an ‘inclusive’ society in which everyone should be able to travel easily.” Even though public transport is getting adapted to a large extent, many people with limited mobility will find it difficult to travel individually. For the Dutch taxi industry Valys has always been a large customer.
“More mobility for the same budget in kilometres”, the minister announced. The 370.000 Dutch people entitled to use Valys have a travel-budget of 600 kilometres a year. In order to keep costs down, the ministry and Transvision worked out a clever combination of train and taxi travel. Last year there were only 345 train trips on an astonishing total of 1 million Valys-trips. The ‘new’ system (aiming at 15% train+taxi trips) offers three choices: an independent train + taxi trip, (already possible for about 70.000 customers), an accompanied train + taxi trip and -as before- a complete taxi trip from A to B. In the case of an accompanied trip, the customer makes a booking via the Valys call-centre (part of a large taxi company call centre) and is picked up at home by one of the taxi companies affiliated to transport coordinator Transvision. A Valys ‘Travel-assistant’ guides the Valys customer between the taxis and the train station (30 in all).
En-route a smartphone-like application with GPS makes sure that, in case of delays, the customer can always be contacted. At the same time the customer can contact the coordinating centre at any time during the train ride. Those who need to get used to travelling by train, can opt for being accompanied on the train by a volunteer Valys-ambassador. In any case, the taxi always waits at the station – even when the train is delayed. The entire journey is followed and monitored by Transvision’s coordinating centre.
• Large taxi customer Valys goes ‘back to basics’