From 2018, students can only receive a fine for their expired public transport card if they actually use it for travelling, the Lower House has decided.
Furthermore, the fine in the first two months will be lower than now: not 97 euros per half a month, but 75 euros. The fine will then rise to 150 euros per half a month in order to combat misuse of the card.
VVD and CDA proposed the change, and D66 added that the card holder must actually have travelled with it. On Thursday, Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, said that it is not desirable that DUO monitors the travel behaviour of so many thousands of students who have not cancelled their card.
Every year, sixty thousand students are late cancelling their card. That generates millions of euros in fines for the public transport companies. Some of the students who receive fines don’t even use their card and cycle everywhere, but must still pay for their ‘travel right’.
There is also not enough information. A forgetful moment and students are liable to pay hundreds of euros. For that reason, the Lower House also feels that students must receive better information. The fine may not increase sooner, according to a motion adopted by the PvdA and five other parties. Apparently the MPs are confident that this will be achieved by 1 January 2018.
The MPs prefer a technical solution: the minister must talk to the public transport companies about the automatic cancellation of the student card once the owner is no longer entitled to it.
Most students are allowed to use their ‘student travel product’ for five years: during the nominal duration of their studies and one year afterwards. Once their card has expired, they must cancel it themselves at an NS ticket machine.
Most students cancel their card on time and the rest do so quickly after receiving a fine. However, there are also (former) students who purposely fail to cancel the card because an ordinary season ticket costs more than the fine. The higher fine should end this practice.
The Dutch National Student Union (LSVb) and the Dutch Intercity Student Association (ISO) call the higher fine a student penalty. Jarmo Berkhout from the LSVb: “It’s incredible that they can’t invent a system whereby the gates just don’t open if you use your card illegally.”