UPDATE 15/03/16: The development of Aalborg’s public transportation system continues to be debated. Following the death of the light rail project, a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system called ‘Bus+’ appears to be the most likely alternative – but there are disagreements about the route and the benefits the proposed system will bring. While the budget for the BRT system is almost half of that of the previously proposed light rail project, the various political parties argue that it won’t do enough to deter private automobiles, that its reach is not wide enough, and that it isn’t necessary in places that buses run every 7.5 minutes. What do you think? Stay tuned for more…More information here (in Danish.)
UPDATE 01/12/15: Aalborg City Council has voted to pursue a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system in place of the light rail project. ‘I am really pleased that we have managed to get the council parties behind this new effort to strengthen public transport between west and central Aalborg and the university / upcoming university hospital,’ said Aalborg mayor Thomas Kastrup-Larsen. ‘Aalborg is really growing , and if we do not enhance our public transport system, we will have severe congestion and delays,which will be an inconvenience to a great many citizens and businesses. I very much hope that the state will help to co-finance this plan.’ Read the municipality’s press release on the subject here.
UPDATE 20/11/15: The Aalborg Light Rail project, as it stood before the Danish government’s budget proposal (Finanslov) 2016 was announced, is dead. No funding was given to the municipality to build a light rail system in the updated version of the budget. Without state support, the project will be impossible to implement. There are 250 million kr. in the municipality’s budget that were earmarked for the light rail project, but which can now be put toward another public transport project. Mayor Thomas Kastrup Larsen is looking into alternatives, such as dedicated bus lanes, in order to address the increasing traffic congestion in the city of Aalborg. While the dream of a light rail system has not faded entirely, it will require a change in government or a change in the current government’s heart in the future. Click here and here for info in Danish.
The Danish government announced their budget proposal for 2016 this morning; cut from the budget are 830 million DKK for the Aalborg Light Rail project, which I have covered previously here and here. This has come as a huge shock for the Aalborg municipal government, according to an article in Nordjyske.dk today. Here is a rough translation by me, the blogger, of the main information conveyed in that article:
‘I am deeply, deeply shocked that the government has removed the funding Aalborg had been promised for the light rail. We have been downsized, and are obviously not worthy of mixing in the same company with the country’s other major cities, all of which have light rail projects,’ says Aalborg’s mayor Thomas Kastrup-Larsen (S). He highlights the high growth in the form of more residents, students and workplaces as one of the arguments for getting the 830 million kroner, which was included in last year’s budget for the construction of a light rail system in Aalborg.
‘If adopted, we create an overt city hierarchy with Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense in the driver’s seat. It is deeply disappointing and totally unreasonable when considering the further development of our town and municipality,’ says Kastrup-Larsen.
Naturally, he will work hard to get the light rail back in the budget proposal. ‘Anything else is indecent,’ he adds.
‘This is a burning shame because we are already relatively far in the planning process of the new light rail system, for which we have used more than 10 million DKK to develop. In fact, we just hired a new director to work in collaboration with the alderman for culture and health Mads Duedahl (V), who is also responsible for the city’s public transportation.’
The mayor will ask for a meeting with the Minister of Transport as soon as possible to explain to him the traffic challenges Aalborg will face in the coming years.
The decision to pull the rug from under the light rail also arouses indignation from the Conservatives in Aalborg City Council.
‘I think something fishy is going on,’ says Thomas Krarup (K), Aalborg’s alderman for the elderly and handicapped. ‘On the one hand, we are debating how to have some state jobs relocated, so that we support growth and development across the country, and then they go and pull a dirty trick like this.’ Krarup will now ask the party’s treasurer Brian Mikkelsen and spokesman on transport Rasmus Jarlov to put the light rail back on track.
The budget proposal will go up for a second reading and third reading before it is finally approved, likely in December. So there is still hope…