Friday, September 14, 2012

Oy vey: the ov chipkaart

Something I was quite excited about this trip was the new ov chipkaart (chipcard) which is a multiple use, loadable card that you can use on all transit- train tram bus ferry throughout the country. I think this is a glimpse into Vancouver's new card of next year.

Again, I did my research before I left and read all about it and my options- but I should have known there would be issues when their website gave me an "English" option and then the instructions were all in Dutch. To say this has been a struggle is an understatement. I was determined to preserver only because it would give me some freedom on transit I had not had before: for example I had only ridden the tram twice before on all trips combined. Because you had this long strip of tickets that you had to validate yourself, AND determine how far you were going and how much validation you need. It made me nervous. Once my mom did it. Once I was with other tourists who decided to play the dumb card and did not buy a ticket at all (bad I know)

Now you check in when you get on any mode and have to check out when you get off. Easy. Right?

It took a week to sort. I went to the local tourist information 3 times. I asked at the train station here twice. Last night the gal on cash gave me a discounted ticket as she had seen me so many times. A trip to tourist info in Amsterdam. Then I rode the train and instead of getting the screen saying how much money you have left, I had a red screen- but the error message is in Dutch! Turns out I totally illegally rode the train but no one asked to check my ticket/card so I got away with it.

The most helpful person who gave me any indication that the card had yet to be validated for the TRAIN was my yoga instructor. Turns out you had to indicate what class of train travel you intend on riding. But meanwhile was supposedly fine for tram and bus.

Finally yesterday I rode the train. And the bus! Both directions! With my card!

Anyway if you go to holland for anything less than a week this probably isn't worth it. Right now you can still buy paper tickets, but not all stations have vendors and not all vendor machines take cash. That's just my 2€ worth.

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