Public transportation in the Netherlands
The Dutch public transport system explained.
The Dutch public transport system is excellent, if you don’t mind us being slightly smug about that! Wherever you want to travel, you can get there easily and comfortably by taking the train, bus, tram, metro or ferry. Click on the different categories of public transport below to read up on the most important things you should keep in mind while travelling with that particular mode of transport. We will also tell you all you need to know about tickets.
Planning your trip
These days you can get information from them through their website and mobile app for Android, Windows Phone and iOS. The handy thing about these is that they allow you to completely plan your journey by public transport, from door to door. Even if you will be travelling by train, metro, foot and ferry for your one journey, that’s no problem. You can select a departure or arrival time to start planning.
If you are only travelling by train, for instance, you might be better off using the NS app (NS stands for Nationale Spoorwegen, Dutch railways): its dedicated app will sooner have information about irregularities and the like. Still, if you use multiple modes of transport in a day and want to be able to completely map your journey from start to finish (instead of from station to station, as you would for the NS app), 9292 is your friend!
Find the 9292 website, NS website and link to the apps in store below:
OV-chipkaart & subscriptions
The OV-chipkaart is the payment method for public transportation in trams, the metro and buses in the Netherlands. There are three types of OV-chipkaart:
Disposable OV-chipkaart; The disposable OV-chipkaart is made of stiff paper and cannot be topped up with credit. Thus, it is intended for travellers who do not use the Dutch public transportation system very often, for example tourists.The disposable OV-chipkaart can be purchased from machines or on-board, and since this type of card is topped up when you buy it, you can use it straight away to travel for one or 24 hours (unlimited travel for one day). Note that you have to check in and out with the disposable chipkaart otherwise it becomes invalid.
Anonymous OV-chipkaart; The anonymous OV-chipkaart (anonieme OV-chipkaart) is reusable, and once loaded with electronic credit it can be used for travelling. It can be used by the owner as well as by others, but not at the same time. Travellers pay per kilometre and the balance (saldo) can be topped up at machines and kiosks. However, note that you cannot load a season ticket onto the anonymous OV-chipkaart.
Personal OV-chipkaart; The personal OV-chipkaart (persoonlijke OV-chipkaart) is for one user and includes his / her name, date of birth, and photograph. Consequently, the personal version is non-transferable, but the owner does enjoy other benefits including the option to block it (for instance in case of theft) and automatic top up. The personal OV-chipkaart can also be loaded with an off-peak hours train travel discount from NS (voordeelurenabonnement) or other subscriptions. Finally, it is also possible to load the personal chipkaart with season tickets and other products.To apply for the personal version of the chipkaart you must have a Dutch address and a bank account. Residents of Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg can also acquire one by paying via a Dutch bank account, PayPal, or credit card.
Tip! Always make sure you have enough electronic credit before travelling. You can use the yellow devices in stores (e.g. Primera) and supermarkets (e.g. Albert Heijn), the inquiry devices in metro stations, and ticket machines at train stations.