Survival guide: Dutch public transport

24 November 2012 – Being an international student in the Netherlands requires a lot of arranging which can lead to frustrations. EM provides tips and tricks to ease your stay in the Netherlands. This week in our Survival Guide: The Dutch public transport system

The Dutch are known for biking and of course, that is the cheapest way to get around in Rotterdam. Now imagine it is raining, it is cold and on top of that you are feeling lazy. You might decide to get around Rotterdam by public transport. But multiple institutions are part of the public transport in Rotterdam and the tickets and prices can differ. So what do you need to know about the ticket options regarding the Dutch public transport system?

Which institutions are responsible for the public transport in Rotterdam?

There are two main institutions which are responsible for the public transport in Rotterdam.

1. The RET: Within Rotterdam, RET is responsible for all the busses, trams, metros and fast ferries.

2. NS: The NS is the main train provider in the Netherlands. It also provides public transport bikes.

What are the ticket options for the bus, tram and metro?

Important note: in order to travel on credit you need a personal or anonymous OV-chip card. Both costs € 7,50 and can be bought at Metro and train stations.

Personal OV-chip card vs. Anonymous OV-chip card

The main difference is that the anonymous OV-chip card is not linked to personal details and thus, can be used by multiple people (not at the same time). This OV-card can be bought at for instance stations and supermarkets. The personal OV-chip card can be ordered online here.

Tip: make sure you always charge your OV-chip card with enough money. If your balance is below €4,00 you cannot use any of the means of public transport.

Important note: You may subscribe online for the service of the OV-chip card to automatically charge your balance if it is below a certain amount . However, it is very hard to cancel this service.

1. Traveling on credit

Each time you use either the bus, tram or metro you have a starting tariff which is: €0,827.  From there you pay per kilometer €0,127. In addition, €4,00 is deducted everytime you use your OV-chipcard as a reassurance that you do have enough money for your ride. After you check out, the remainings of that €4,00 is put back on your card.

Tip: If you keep transferring between the different types of public transport within 35 minutes, you do not have to pay the starting tariff each time. You then only pay it the first time you check in.

Tip: The OV-chip card can be used throughout the Netherlands. But: be aware that the tariff per kilometer can differ per region. Prices range from € 0,10 till  € 0,189.

2. One – or two-hour ticket

A one hour-ticket costs you € 3,00 and a two-hour ticket € 3,50. Both can be used in all transport the RET offers, expect for the fast ferry. This means that you can check in and out as often as you like within the time-span of your ticket.

Tip: Buying a separate ticket each time is rather expensive. So, if you travel at least 4 times a year by public transport it is already cheap to buy an OV-chip card and pay per kilometer. Buying four separate tickets will cost you: 4 x € 3,00 = € 12,00. While buying the OV-chip card and paying per kilometer costs you: € 7,50 + 4 x €0,827 (starting tariff) = €10,00 and then you just pay €0,127 per kilometer.

Important note: There is a special RET bus, called the BOB-bus, which drives around Rotterdam and its surrounding municipalities from Friday nights till Saturday mornings and Saturday nights till Sunday mornings. This bus is mainly used for people who go out in Rotterdam and want to get home safely. But ticket prices differ from other kinds of tickets. Do you travel with your OV-chip card then, regardless of the amount of time you travel with the BOB-bus, a ticket costs €4,50. Without an OV-chip card it costs €5,00.

3. Day ticket

There is an option of purchasing a ticket which is valid one, two or even three days. One day costs €7,00, two days €10,50 and three days €14,00.

Tip: These tickets are especially useful if someone is visiting you from abroad, for instance family, and you want to show them around Rotterdam.

4. Weekly, monthly or yearly subscription

All subscriptions work with ‘stars’ that determine the prices of the subscription. A star refers to an area within Rotterdam. The more stars you want, the higher your subscription. A one star subscription means that you can travel for free within a particular zone. The more zones you want to add to your subscription, the more stars, and the higher the fee.

Explanation of the zones

A visual explanation can be found here.

The specific prices for a weekly subscription can be found here, for a monthly subscription here, and for a yearly subscription here.

Tip: If you live in Kralingen and want to travel everywhere within the center of Rotterdam and go to university by public transport, you can do this for € 73,40 a month. Or you could get the yearly subscription of € 734,00 per year which is only €  61,20 per month.

Where can you get RET tickets or subscriptions?

You can buy your tickets straight from the conductor on the tram, or at the information desk at the metro station as well as from the ticket machines at train and metro stations. Subscriptions can only be bought at the ticket machines or at the information desks.

What are the ticket options for the fast ferry?

The fast ferry can take you from Rotterdam to surrounding municipalities. For instance, Krimen aan den IJssel, Ridderkerk, Dordrecht en Sliedrecht.

You have the following ticket options:

1. One or two way ticket

A one-way ticket costs you €3,30 and a two-way ticket €5,50. Both can be paid for using an OV-chip card or you can buy separate tickets in either cash or by using your bank card.

Tip: If you have a weekly, monthly or yearly subscription with specific stars for the public transport in Rotterdam, it could be that you can travel with the fast ferry for free! You can check the specific zones once you subscribe for such a monthly payment.

2. 20 trip card

If you plan on sightseeing in Rotterdam and its surrounding municipalities, a 20 trip card might be cheaper. A 20 trip card costs €42,00. 20 one-way tickets costs you: 20 x €3,30 = €66,00 euros and 10 two-way tickets (meaning, 20 trips in total) costs you 10 x €5,50 = €55,00 euros. So, if you decide to sightsee by fast ferry, a 20 trip card is cheaper.

Where can you get these tickets?

You can buy your tickets at the fast ferry stops.

What are the ticket options for the trains?

1. One or two way tickets

You can decide to buy a separate ticket to the destination you are going, single or round way. Specific pri

ces can be found here: Fill in from (in Dutch: van) and to (in Dutch: naar) and at the bottom of the next screen you find the specific pricing of the ticket you need.

Tip: You can buy a paper ticket at the station or use your OV-chip card.

Important note: As of the end of next year, the paper tickets will disappear completely. The only way to travel by train from 2014 onwards is by OV-chip card. Paper tickets will then be replaced by disposable OV-chip cards, for those people who do not have an OV-chip card.

2. Specific subscriptions

Important note: The NS subscriptions can only be activated on an OV-chip card, so you need to have one before you subscribe to any NS subscriptions. The NS offers a variety of subscriptions, all aimed at different kind of train travelers.

If you go by train more regularly, or you are planning on sightseeing throughout The Netherlands during your stay here, you have the following options:

1. Outside rush hour discount (in Dutch: Dal voordeel) subscription

For €50 per year, this subscription gives you a 40 % discount outside rush hours as well as during the weekend after 09:00.

Tip: by outside rush hour trains the NS means: between 09:00 and 16:00 and 18:30 and 06:30.

2. Weekend free (in Dutch: Weekend vrij) subscription

For €40 a month, you can travel for free every weekend (starting Friday night until Sunday night). In addition, you get 40 % discount during outside rush hour trains. You can take a maximum of 3 outside rush hours people with you that can also get 40 % discount.

Always discount (in Dutch: Altijd voordeel) subscription. For €25 a month you get a 20 % discount during rush hours and a 40 % discount outside rush hours as well as during the weekend.

Tip: If you commit for a year, your subscription is only €20 per month.

3. Always free (in Dutch: Altijd vrij) subscription

For €295 a month, you can travel for free anytime, any day, anywhere in The Netherlands.

Tip: with all subscriptions, you can take up to 3 people after 09:00 with you who also can make use of 40 % discount on their ticket.

Important note: there are also several track-specific monthly or yearly subscriptions available. Do you want more information on this? Then you should drop by an information desk at one of the train stations or call: 0900 – 20 21 163.

Where can you get these subscriptions?

Any of these subscriptions can be requested online if you create a My NS-account here.

Tip: All the information is in Dutch, so make sure you have someone who is fluent in Dutch help you.