Lessons from the Netherlands: Fare Policy

Riding trams in the Netherlands this week, I have been struck by the number of ways to buy a fare:

1) On most trains in Amsterdam there is a conduction in a booth selling tickets. I am told that conductors were only recently added back to trains, in part to make customers feel more secure.

2) Lacking a conductor, you either buy your ticket from the driver or from a fare machine, which is just as dumbfounding as the one found on Portland’s streetcars.

3) 24-hour and 72-hour passes are available if you’re going to be doing a lot of riding.

4) In Rotterdam, they are about to replace this system with a stored-value card that you swipe on entry and again on exit. This is presented as a way to prevent fare evaders (who are also associated with problematic behavior on the car). A side benefit is getting a better understanding of route usage and transfers, leading to better service planning. However, since the cards are identified to an individual user, the local government has also gone to great pains to assure citizens that their individual movement will not be tracked…

5) There is a national fare card, called a “strippen cart” (strip card) that has multiple sections that can be validated. It can be used in multiple cities and is sold at a slight discount. If you are taking a longer trip, you have to validate multiple strips on the ticket.

The fare for a one-zone trip in Amsterdam is Euro 1.60, a bit more than TriMet’s all-zone fare. It’s only good for an hour, compared to TriMet’s 1 hour, 45 minutes. So we don’t have too bad a deal in Portland comparatively.

I am told that tram operations are funded 50% from the farebox and 50% by subsidy from the national government (we could only wish!). I have heard numbers for capital subsidy from the national government of 80% to 95%.

Portland Transport is packing up and getting ready to head home. I don’t know if I’ll get another post out before we board the plane, but you can definitely count on more in coming weeks as we go through our notes and photos when we get home!


One response to “Lessons from the Netherlands: Fare Policy”

  1. I just want to say that I agree that the Portland Streetcar farebox is not as user-friendly as it could be. The good news is that it is not needed for much of the line (any if there was a Northwest District Parking Plan).

    The other issue I have with it is that its a little herkey-jerkey. When it starts going, its easy to fall backwards.

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