News - March 10, 2011


My loathing of the public transport chip pass runs deep. Thanks to the pass I won't wear pink on principle and I get more and more worked up every time a new security measure is hacked. It has got so bad that my personal happiness largely hangs on negative news about Trans Link Systems. As a daily commuter between Arnhem and Wageningen, I have developed the conviction that it is not mass immigration but chip pass obsession that is our number one social problem. Let me sum it up:

1. The papers are full of stories about the few Muslims who don't shake hands with women. But the chip pass readers go a lot further than that. If I am very lucky I get a grudging 'IN OK' but with a bit of bad luck I see 'line not found' or something like an arrogant '9?r3&w9i#0gr!' This is a disgrace in itself, of course, but to add insult to injury I have now discovered that the machine discriminates. Why do I just get 'IN OK' while many other passengers are greeted with 'Good day'?
2. Thanks to the chip pass my interaction with bus drivers has gone downhill. And by that I do not mean the shared disgruntlement with defective machines. No, some transport companies have placed the machine where it means that I have to turn my back on the driver to check in. I recently asked a driver if many passengers were grumpy because of the wet weather. 'You must be joking,' he said, 'passengers don't say anything anyway.' Heigh ho, wonder why the Dutch are becoming less civil?
3. And then for the 'social problem' that the hardworking citizen is always the victim. Well, if there is one system that has had a lot of victims... Last week I couldn't check out, due to some technical problem or other on the part of the transport provider. 'Here you are, here is a form to show that it wasn't your fault. Please note that we only accept forms that are completed in full, and do not forget the postage stamp.' I call this 'ridiculous', but my fellow students call me a lucky duck because my own pass has never been declared invalid.
4. But the country's biggest social problem remains the ostrich policy of Trans Link Systems. 'Oh, is there a security problem? Then let's use the system for payments too.' 'Oh no, your privacy is fully  guaranteed with an anonymous pass, and fraud is pointless because we know exactly who all those anonymous passengers are.'
Fine that illegal travellers should be caught, but what I want to know is: why is the biggest offender still at large?