Besides travelling by Bike or car, Dutch people also use the public transport system to get to work or school. If you want to use the public transport system in The Netherlands, in most cases you need the OV-chip card. What is it? Where is it being used? Which one should I get? How you should use it and what should I be aware of? This article tries to answer these questions.
What is the OV-chip card & where can I get it?
The OV-chip card is a smart card that is the size of a bankcard and it contains an invisible chip. The card is suitable for the entire public transport system in The Netherlands. It can be loaded with credit in euros or with a travel product (single or season ticket). When you load it with credit it works like an electronic purse (e-purse).
There are currently three types of cards: personal, anonymous and disposable cards. The disposable card can be purchased at the station vending machine. The anonymous OV-chip card can be bought at the ticket office and vending machines at the station, according to ov-chipkaart.nl, which contains all sorts of information regarding the OV-chip card.
Dutch students, who get their education subsidized by the government travel with a personal card, which contains a travel product (week or weekend) that allows them to travel for free during the week or only in the weekends. Either one can also be used in combination with a 40 per cent discount ticket.
Where is it being used?
The OV-chip card is not yet being used in every part of the Netherlands. It is being launched in phases. In Groningen it is possible to use it in both trains and busses. As soon as its rollout is completed it is not possible to travel without an OV-chip card anymore. Tickets and other payments are gradually being removed.
Which one should I get?
Foreign students should buy either an anonymous or disposable OV-chip card, depending on their frequency of travelling with public transport. An anonymous card would be most suitable for the most foreign students because it can be loaded with an amount or travel product.
In the busses in Groningen it is also possible to buy so-called “eurokaartjes” from the driver. If you don’t travel by bus regularly it would be a good choice to get those. At train stations it is possible to buy tickets with your starting point and destination. If you happen to travel together with a Dutch student — who may travel for free with his OV-chip card — you can get a ticket at a 40 per cent discount rate.
How should I use it?
When you are a foreign student you would usually get an anonymous or personal OV-chip card. In both cases you need credit, which you can load on the card via yellow add value machines that can be found at stations, supermarkets and other public places. You always need a minimum amount to travel. This depends on the way of transport. This is 4 euros for bus, metro and tram and 20 euros for NS trains.
When you travel by bus in Groningen you need to check in at the gate by holding your OV-chip card up to the logo on the screen. The sound and green light signal indicates your card has been read. When you have reached your destination you will have to checkout following the exact same procedure you followed to check-in or you will pay the full boarding rate (4 euros). If you do so, the actual travel costs, based on the distance travelled, minus the boarding rate is deducted from or added to the e-purse.
What happens when I don’t check-in?
When you forget to check-in and haven’t bought a ticket you’re travelling illegally. This means you risk a penalty. Sometimes OV stewards will enter the bus and ask for your OV-chip card or ticket. The bus driver usually pays attention that everyone has checked-in properly, but especially on lines with many students they sometimes just forget. There is no fixed rate for this penalty. In trains there is. This is €35 plus the cost of your travel.
Image source: verkeersnet.nl
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