How does the Dutch public transportation system work?

The Netherlands has a very good public transportation network, making it very easy to get around. Due to its central position within the country, Utrecht is an important transportation hub (rail and road) in the Netherlands. There are 2 apps that can be used to help organise travel:

- For all train travel (including delay's, construction works etc.)  

- For all public transport travel

From Utrecht Central station there are numerous connections both trains, trams and busses:

- Regular Intercity trains to all major Dutch cities, and a direct connection to Schiphol Airport;

- International trains (ICE) to Germany, Belgium, France and other European countries;

- Regular local trains to areas all around the Netherlands.

The OV-chipcard is the most common means of payment for the public transport system for people living in the Netherlands. The OV-chipcard is the size of a bank card and contains an invisible chip. The OV-chipcard can be topped up with credit in euros with which you can travel anywhere within the Netherlands using Bus, Tram, Metro, Boat or Train. There are personal and anonymous cards. More information about the OV-chipcard can be found here or read further below. 

Instead of an OV-Chipcard you can also opt for an Utrecht Region Pass.

This is a pay-as-you-go pass and is linked to your credit card. You can use it all over the Netherlands. It is specifically designed for international visitors to make travelling with the public transport system in the Netherlands hassle free. With this card you can use bus, tram, metro, train and OV bikes. These are shared bikes that you can pick up at multiple places in Utrecht and use up to 72 hours.

More information: 
With both cards, you can travel with public transport using one card. You use the card by checking in when you enter the bus and check out when you have reached your destination by swiping your card past the white panel at the entrance of the bus. You should also check-in and check-out when you travel by train using the check-in machines. Failing to do so, might result in a fine. The card works like an e-purse: depending on the length of your trip, an amount will be deducted from the balance on your OV Chip Card or from your Credit Card..

Keep in mind the following while using these cards:

  • You should always check in and check out. If you forget to check out, a standard amount of €20,- will be deducted from your balance / added to your credit card bill;
  • It is required to use a chip card;
  • You also have to check in and out when you transfer from one modality to another.

Purchase the OV Chip Card at the information kiosk at the Utrecht Central Station bus depot or at train stations. After purchasing the card, you will have to top-up your balance using the machines on the train station, or regular NS ticket machines. You can top-up the credit on your card at train stations, in most buses and supermarkets and at selected service desks (e.g. the GVU Service kiosk at the Utrecht Central Station bus depot). If you want to travel with train you will need at least a balance of € 20,- on your card. When you leave you can go to the ticket desk at any station in the Netherlands to retrieve the outstanding balance.

For the Utrecht Region Pass you can register online. When you arrive in the Netherlands there are several places where you can pick up your card. This includes several hotels and hostels, a stand at the Utrecht Central Station and the Tourist Information in Utrecht. In your account you can check your trip report and see what you spend. If you want more information about how the Utrecht Region pass works you can have a look at the FAQ on their website.


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