Bus and tram travel in the Netherlands has become much more expensive
Public transport on bus and trams has become much more expensive in recent years, and not just for intercity or international trips.
The region around The Hague has had the greatest price increase: 47 per cent in two years. It’s not much better in Amsterdam, where prices have gone up by 38 per cent over the period. Overall, trips on buses and trams have gone up by 27 per cent in North Holland as a whole.
In 2011, the OV-chipkaart became the preferred method of payment on public transport, charging a price per kilometre. Due to this, odd differentials occur: the city bus in Leeuwarden costs less than 10 cents per km, while the local bus around The Hague is almost 17 cents per km.
The strangest example is in the Nijmegen region: because two regions are responsible for the area, a line towards Uden is serviced by two different bus companies with two different rates. One half-hour trip costs 4,92 euros, while the other costs 5,07.
The rates per kilometre have risen by eight per cent or more in almost every region in the Netherlands since 2011. Even the basic rate has become considerably more expensive (8,9 per cent) in the last two years.
Blame the government...
According to a spokesman for regional transport company Connexxion, the price increases in some regions are partly explained by funding cuts.
"The government needed to make cuts and, in some cases, didn’t want this to result in a decline in the level of service. This means that carriers need to make up the difference by implementing a price increase for consumers," he said.
The Maatshcappij Voor Beter OV (society for better public transport) also blames the expensive rates on The Hague.
"The rates are outrageous because the provinces and metropolitan regions receive less money from The Hague. It is unbelievable that the Hague politicians always say that they put the traveller at the centre, then turn on the public transport [funding] tap."
... or the companies?
Public transport user’s Rover considers it too easy to blame politicians. "Transport companies have made their own choice here and, not infrequently, with dollar signs in their eyes," says their spokeswoman.
She points out that any lost revenue will be recovered from consumers. "If the price of petrol falls the consumer won’t see any of that. As a result, the price for public transport users has for many years only gone in one direction: up."
Regular users have seen rates for buses and trains rise a lot in recent years, because in the past these people would have bought a cheap bus season ticket. This special disappeared in 2012, while more economical public transport cards were abolished with the smartcard.
In fact, public transport fares rose sharply with the introduction of the smartcard. Tickets prices between 2002 and 2011 rose by over 30 per cent, while inflation rose by only 20 per cent. According to Connexxion, that is in part because the quality of the service has improved.
"We now offer apps, for example, with current travel information and even wifi, in some regions. We did not offer any of that 10 years ago."
Maatshcappij Voor Beter OV doesn’t agree with this assessment at all: "Travel is one of the core businesses of a transport company. Society is changing and so does the way we want our travel information. That should not be a reason to raise prices."
Changes in Ranstad bus & tram prices (euros per km)