Nationwide implementation of public transport smartcard in the Netherlands

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe


Success in the use of electronic ticketing technology in the public transport sector such as the Octopus Card in Hong Kong and the Oyster Card in London have induced many European cities to consider the smartcard as a viable possibility. The Netherlands is the first country to have the stated intention to introduce the smartcard nationwide. The technology would provide opportunities for public transport authorities and operators to increase patronage, to improve operating performance and to develop innovative fare schemes to enhance the financial results. The Dutch experience has provided invaluable insights how research studies can support product development and assist in the formulation of nationwide implementation strategy. In December 2005, the smartcard project had a successful roll-out in the Rotterdam region. It was first introduced on the metro system operated by the municipal public transport company RET and on two bus routes operated by the regional bus company Connexxion in Voorne Putten and Hoeksche Waard. The phased introduction of the smartcard is part of a strategy adopted by the Dutch government in close collaboration with other stakeholders that included the 19 public transport authorities, the 5 major transport operators and consumer organisations. At present, 3 types of smartcard are on sale: anonymous, personalised and dispoable. Although the smartcards (for marketing purposes) are different in the detailed design to give a unique signature, the ticketing technology is compatible and the cards themselves are inter-operable in all regions. Since the 2005 roll-out, the contactless smartcard ticketing system has been extended to the Netherlands Railway line between Rotterdam and Hook of Holland and to the metro system in the Amsterdam agglomeration. A number of studies undertaken by the Dutch Transport Ministry in conjunction with the stakeholders have provided important guidelines to enhance policy development and the design of supporting measures. These study findings will be reported in the paper. In June 2006, on the basis of the progress reports and practical experiences in field trials, the Transport Minister had gained the support of the Dutch Parliament to endorse a GO-decision. The declared intention is to have nationwide implementation of the smartcard by January 2009. At present, there are over 45,000 smartcards in use in the Amsterdam region. RET has embarked on a marketing campaign to increase the number of personalised smartcard in use in Rotterdam to 300,000 by early 2007. The smartcard technique is also being tested in actual use on buses and trams in Rotterdam and in Amsterdam. The paper will provide comprehensive reporting of the main featuress of smartcard ticketing, how the system works, the marketing strategy and the results so far. Findings from scenarios' studies and insights gained have provided useful management information for decision-takings regarding what are the consequences of introducing different fare structures and how best to optimise usage. Because public acceptance is a major issue, the paper will present the results of a user survey in Rotterdam. Research objectives were to ascertain passenger reactions to the electronic payment system in general and to appraise user friendliness for different user groups in particular.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.