It is a thorn in the side of politicians that students pay the public transport companies millions of euros in fines every year if they cancel their ‘student travel product’ too late. Why not automatically block the pass once the student is no longer entitled to it, the House of Representatives wondered.
The public transport companies have always claimed that this was technically impossible, but they are now exploring whether it might be feasible after all. The NS is currently modifying its software, Minister Van Engelshoven told the House of Representatives.
A pilot with a so-called unlimited blacklist is planned. A blacklist with blocked public transport discount passes already exists, but the NS says there is not yet enough room for all expired student discount passes. If the pilot is successful and a former student checks in, the travel pass will be deactivated and will be invalid for other transport companies too. The student will therefore not receive any further fines.
Meanwhile other measures will aim at reducing the number of fines, the Minister had already previously announced. For example, the capacity of the blacklist will be doubled by the end of the year, and next year a system will come into force whereby expired student travel products will rotate on the blacklist. Travelling with an expired pass will be a game of chance: if you check in on a day that your pass happens to be on the list, it will be deactivated and will then become invalid for other transport companies too. If your pass is not on the list, you can travel but you will receive a fine later.
The period within which students can receive a fine will also be shortened: from twelve to nine months. In the future, Van Engelshoven wants to see whether the period can be reduced even further, to six months. Furthermore, students have ten days in which to cancel their travel product instead of five working days, as was initially the case. If all goes well, the new rules will come into force on 1 January 2019. First, however, the Bill will go to the Council of State, which will advise on the matter. Then the House of Representatives and Senate will study the proposal.