About 3,000 OV-Chipcards Issued in Trial with International Students
The Dutch are considering a travel card for international students to give them a discount on public transport after a successful trial in 2018 involving five universities and four universities of applied sciences. About 3,000 of these special OV-chipcards were issued. Another test run across the country will be done next year, a report from Nuffic states.
It is believed the card might help to alleviate the acute shortage of accommodation in student cities, giving them the option of living outside these cities and commuting to classes at a discounted fare. "It will also be handy for students doing internships who have to travel to their place of employment," according to Floor van Donselaar from Nuffic. In addition, the organisation believes it will help with integration as students will be able to explore more parts of the Netherlands.
In contrast to international students, Dutch students enjoy free or discounted travel on public transport to and from their classes. They can apply for the product through the department of education and load it on their OV card. According to Nuffic international students in other countries already benefit from discounts.
This led to Nuffic and ISIC - the International Student Identity Card which gives students worldwide discounts on products and services - doing a survey among 400 students on their needs. The result indicated that students are often confused about which travel products and discounts they are eligible for in the Netherlands. "They travel on average for €80 per month on public transport. Most (65%) had an OV-card without discount," according to Ivo Kneepkens of ISIC. Almost all expressed the need for a special card with the information and application procedure in English.
Students participating in the trial got an OV card for €25 and a 20% discount during non-peak hours on NS routes. After stakeholders have consulted again this year and studied the travel data, another test run will be done in the coming year. According to Kneepkens the number of travel providers makes it complicated to arrange discounts.
He hopes institutions will eventually also bring the existence of the card to the attention of prospective students. "Ideally students should be able to order the card before their arrival in the Netherlands and get a QR code which they can use to travel from Schiphol and then pick up the card from their institution."
by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press