Student - 17 december 2014

Blog: Annoying OV chip card


In the first weeks of my stay in Vienna, I was surprised how much I missed riding a bike in Wageningen. Now I wonder if it was a habit to ride a bike or an obligation due to expensive travel fare? I wonder why international students have to pay so much to travel?

To travel to Ede from Wageningen for some shopping, I would rather go on a bike on a chilly windy day, than on the 88 bus. This used to save me about 5 euro. Just to go to Amsterdam (which is about an hour on the train) and come back, I would have to spend around 32 euro - which I think is quite expensive. And then the OV chip card - that was another tough nut for me to crack. I used to forget to check out and eventually had to pay high costs. So the plan was not to travel much on the OV chip card, but rather buy the discounted one day tickets (dagkaart) and visit six places in a day just not to miss the opportunity to travel around the Netherlands.

Now traveling in Vienna every day, whether its one way or 'several hours or even days or months at a time, I never have to fear. I just buy an unlimited monthly pass, so cheap that it costs the same as one return ticket  to Amsterdam. Literally, one could spend whole days and months in metros and trams and buses, the cost is the same. This is much much cheaper than in the Netherlands for foreign students. 

I realize that it is more or less the same system for the Dutch students, but unfortunately it is not cheaper for us international students. A friend asked me while we were traveling- ‘Are we the milking or cash machines?’ This makes me wonder if the higher travel fare is barring our mobility around the Netherlands or is it letting us get used to bikes more?

I wish I could travel to entire Netherlands without fearing the train fare.

Re:acties 3

  • Broer Konijn


    There are also (relatively) a lot of Dutch in the "internationals" usually in well-paid jobs, paying taxes as well and usually having much less access to any sort of governmental subsidies, allowances etc.

    I do however strongly agree with your second point which I think pinpoints a serious flaw in the Dutch governmental Student-OV subsidie system. The Dutch government pays yearly 680,- per student for the OV-Studentcard, a whopping total of 423 million euros*.

    Getting this card for free promotes in my opinion to stay at your parents and keep travelling everyday to your education institution, burdening even more the already pressed OV in the rush hours. There is no incentive to promote moving, life on your own (learn to grow independent), close to your institution, since there is no "refund" if you not or barely use the OV-Studentcard. Just a certain loss of not using the OV-Studentcard as much as possible, if you feel about it that way.

    With the new loansystem this will become even worse, costs will rise if you decide to live on your own and dont travel everyday with the OV, while the stay at home students/kids can keep living (for the most part) of their parents roof and the taxpayers OV-Studentcard.

    I think it would be smart if it was possible to stop your OV-Studentcard if you don't really need it that much and get a small "refund" or turn it into a discount card. If you dont travel that much you then have an incentive to stop the card, which saves governmental, and thereby citizen, money. It also promotes more to live on your own close to your instition, which I believe is a good thing considering the life experience you obtain.

    *Dutch reference, numbers of 2013:

  • R

    Indeed, I don't think it is really fair to say that it is should be "cheaper" for international students like it is for the Dutch students. If you can even really call it 'cheaper'.

    Yes, sure it would be nice if it were the case, but it all has to do with the subsidized/unsubsidized loans. There are for instance plenty Dutch students that currently do not have their subsidized OV-cards anymore, yet have to travel every weekend home. Or... to that end, there are even many more students not living as close to the campus as the students in Wageningen do. They have to travel 1,5 hours by public transport every day to their university. For those especially, the subsidized/free cost of public travelling is a must. All of which is funded through Tax money which inevitably mostly comes from Dutch families. And even this system for Dutch students is hardly sustainable sadly. So let alone how much it would to include also the international students.

    Also do not forget, jokes aside of trains arriving on time or not, the Dutch railway system is one of the more advanced and most tightly regulated . You essentially pay a little bit for the quality :)

    In the end we all agree with what "Raaz" says as well: The general costs of travelling with public travel is annoyingly high.

    So I hope you don't try to make this a "international student vs Dutch student" thing.

    Also, on a side-note. The Austrian/Viennese Metro system and its immensely low costs is something incredibly rare and generous. I truly loved it myself as well, and wished this could be implemented in the Netherlands as well, but that's something that will not happen sadly. Besides, the day-card in Vienna does not cover all travelling, for instance travelling towards other regions (there's more than Vienna). Even from the airport to Vienna, it is still 12 euro one-way though...

    And to answer your friends' question: All students in The Netherlands are the milking machine of the government. Regardless whether international or Dutch.

    • SportyMary

      I don't agree with your reaction, R. Firstly, there are a lot of internationals in The Netherlands, usually in well-paid jobs, paying taxes as well and usually having much less access to any sort of governmental subsidies, allowances etc. Secondly, students don't "have to" travel home every weekend, it's a choice. When I was a student my parents' place was too far away and it was too expensive to get there, so I only went during the holidays. The same was true for most of my friends. We all survived and it didn't do us any bad. Thirdly, I don't think the cost-quality argument is very valid. There are enough (Western) countries having at least equally good - if not better - quality public transportation at a significantly lower cost, inner city as well as regional transportation.

    • R


      Sure, there are a lot internationals working in The Netherlands that do pay tax. However, I was aiming at the difference between the international students, not so much the workforce. Though I agree with you on that point that they generally benefit far less. On the other hand, some of these may even get a tax reduction depending on the time that they are/have been in The Netherlands which is a considerable amount. Informing the international workforce about this should be better to help them compensate their costs obviously.

      I also agree that you do not -have- to go home. I was in a situation like yours. A one-way trip costing me about 3.5 hours without delay and good connections, so I also didn't travel home a lot. But I think that is a substantially lower number of people that do so. I mean, how crowded is Wageningen in the weekend really? Various students work at their hometown for instance. Though this is also slightly related to the comment above. There is no real benefit of not choosing to have your OV-card, like a small compensation. So there is no stimulation to move away. Government money that is kind of lost as we hardly used our OV-card, which could otherwise be spent on compensating international student OV-travelling, right?

      On your third statement, I obviously can't bring in much as I do agree on that, but I did't mean that the high costs truly justify the quality assets. But you also cannot expect to get everything for free and that for 5 euro you can travel to the other side of the country. But this is really country dependent, which by default is difficult to change. :)

  • Cheapskate

    Why should it be cheaper for international students then for regular Dutch students?

    • P

      Good question...

    • contravers

      i think she meant that it should be equally expensive/cheap for dutch students and for international students...