August 22, 2020

Lately, activities in the Utrecht Science Park and Rijnsweerd have been partially resumed. The next steps will follow after the summer holidays: the educational activities at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and Utrecht University will be further resumed within the applicable COVID-19 guidelines. This will result in additional travel to, from and within the area. We are taking additional measures accordingly. We are monitoring the traffic situation, encouraging dispersion and have drawn up common ground rules. We are also modifying bus and tram stops and deploying traffic controllers to ensure that sufficient distance can be maintained while waiting. In accordance with the government's wish to make regional agreements, the educational institutions have made agreements with the municipality, province and transport companies regarding staggered scheduling of educational activities in the USP. Other partners in the area are also actively involved. We are working together to ensure that we can safely restart.

Monitoring travel
In recent months, the Municipality of Utrecht, the Province of Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, UMC Utrecht, Utrecht Science Park Foundation, other employers at the Utrecht Science Park, Rijnsweerd and U-OV have worked closely together to restart the activities at the Science Park, the adjacent Rijnsweerd and the Kromhout Barracks in phases where possible. The safety of the users is paramount and, to that end, we continuously coordinated the number of travel movements in the area. Monitoring will remain essential in the coming months. The partners have developed a joint monitor to track developments in automotive, bicycle and pedestrian movements. Use of public transport is also included. We are also deploying observers who monitor congestion and perceived congestion in public transport, at stops and on busy walking and cycling routes.

Dispersion and avoidance
The educational activities in the area will be partially resumed after the summer. The 1.5-metre social distancing rule severely limits the buildings’ capacities, making it essential that we continue to offer a lot of education online. Nevertheless, the number of people travelling to the area will increase. We want to avoid peak loads as much as possible through dispersion and by avoiding peak times. We have compared the expected travel demand of all parties involved with the available capacity of public transport. Based on that, we have made agreements on spreading the starting times of the educational activities.

The public transport system has sufficient capacity to accommodate the increasing travel within the RIVM guidelines, especially with the measures we are taking to reduce traffic during peak times. The parties at Utrecht Science Park urge users to utilize the public transport capacity.

To avoid peak loads, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (UUAS) and Utrecht University (UU) have coordinated their timetables. During peak times, UU will start at 09:00, while UUAS will start at 08:00, 08:30 and 09:30.

Employers will also continue to ask their employees to work from home wherever possible to prevent congestion in the buildings and public transport. UMC Utrecht is offering more care at a distance to allow patients who need to visit the hospital to do so responsibly.

In addition, all companies, educational institutions and care facilities are spreading their work, visits and study times throughout the day as much as possible to avoid peak loads. These agreements ensure that essential functions such as care remain accessible and that people can maintain sufficient distance.

We have also drawn up additional regulations. For example, we are asking people to wear a mask while waiting at busy stops. Visitors are also requested to only visit the area by appointment and to avoid peak times wherever possible.

Measures on the street
The parties have implemented measures in and around buildings. Extra space will be created around the bus and tram platforms in various places. Traffic controllers will be deployed at busy stops.
With these measures, the parties have created the conditions necessary to safely travel and stay in the area from 31 August. If it becomes evident that additional measures are needed, we will take them together. We would also like to emphasize how important it still is that visitors, students and employees adhere to the rules.

Future vision
Parties at the USP and Rijnsweerd have been working together for a while to reduce and disperse traffic to, from and in the area. The past few months have provided additional insight into the opportunities offered by increased working from home, studying at home and care at a distance. We want to preserve the things that work well. To that end, we will be preparing various measures in the coming months. The first step is to incorporate USP, Rijnsweerd and Kromhout's updated work and travel needs into a proposal of joint wishes for the new public transport timetable, which will come into effect around 1-1-2021.