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When Lightyear considered moving to the Automotive Campus in the summer of 2017, one of the biggest concerns was accessibility. Although there are several ways to get there, the direct road to Eindhoven is almost unbeatable. That’s why the campus supported our move at the time by facilitating an electric van. For a long time very cosy but because of our growth not sustainable anymore.

Accessibility is always quite a thing. When I started living together with my boyfriend, we quickly agreed that the centre of Eindhoven was too expensive and we chose Helmond because of the good train connection. Every fifteen minutes a train to Eindhoven and every half hour it goes directly to Schiphol Airport. The first house we visited was in Nuenen. But ten minutes by bus or ten minutes by train is quite a big difference in terms of travel convenience. Moreover, this bus never continues its ride to Amsterdam.

“Accessibility is always quite a thing”

Because I still have my sports in Eindhoven and also have a lot of friends there it is often a lot of logistics to think about how I can travel most conveniently. Getting there by bike is no problem, but returning in the dark along the canal is a no-go for me. I could take my bike on the train but I pay € 6,- each time for that short track. The NS has a fixed rate for taking a bike wherever you want to go – time for some differentiation? I pay €3.80 for a public transport bike, which is often more of a hassle. Although I can’t really get it over my heart, it comes down to the fact that in winter I often drive with a petrol car to the hockey training in the evening.

But recently there are electric Amber cars on the campus and I think it’s fantastic! Not only is there a hub next to Eindhoven station, but also at Strijp, the High Tech Campus and recently next to the Helmond station as well. That suddenly gives a lot more choice. It has happened a number of times that the train from Eindhoven to Helmond did not run and a number of Lightyear employees all came to the campus in an Amber. Conversely, it is suddenly easy for students from the TU/e to go to the campus. Or if you missed the train at an intermediate station you can take the Amber to the station quickly to compensate the loss to 15 minutes instead of half an hour.

“I always thought that autonomous cars would become the taxi’s competitor but maybe it starts much earlier with the shared cars…”

Because the railway’s night network no longer exists (please someone, make it return!), you have to take back the last train from Amsterdam relatively early in the weekend. By going to Eindhoven instead of Helmond I can take the last train at 00:24h instead of 23:40h. The last part by taxi I pay between € 25-40 for but with the Amber, I only pay € 0.25 per minute. It only takes me a 15 minutes drive to the hub in Helmond and from there I walk to my home in 5 minutes. That would cost me a total of € 3.75, regardless of when I come and certainly at night the availability is high. That is even cheaper than renting a public transport bike. I don’t have to pay parking fees and arrive at home warm and dry.

“I might have moved to Nuenen if there had already been Amber hubs.”

Nonetheless, these public transport bikes are a fantastic development. Recently I understood at an event of Prorail that because of the “OV bike” more people went by train. Who knows, we might soon be able to replace small intermediate stations with shared car hubs and the train could do its work even faster and more efficiently over long distances, powered by renewable energy of course. In addition, there will be a shared car hub at every major train station, which will allow you to travel to any destination in 15 minutes for the money of a public transport bicycle. If you do this after 6 pm and return the same evening, you don’t even have to park your car on a Hub and at Amber, you don’t even pay for the use during the parking time. I always thought that autonomous cars would become the competitor of taxis but maybe it starts much earlier with the shared cars… I am very curious to see what other changes this will bring with it, who knows, I might have moved to Nuenen if there had already been Amber hubs.

About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. The six columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous episodes.