The main public transport in the Netherlands for longer distances is by train. Long-distance buses are limited to a few missing railway connections. Regional and local public transport is by bus and in some cities by metro and tram. There are also ferries.

There are 18 public transport authorities in the Netherlands: the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, OV-bureau Groningen Drenthe (OVBGD), each of the 10 other provinces, Regio Twente, Stadsregio Arnhem Nijmegen, Bestuur Regio Utrecht (BRU), Vervoerregio Amsterdam [nl] (formerly Stadsregio Amsterdam), Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag (MRDH), and Samenwerkingsverband Regio Eindhoven (SRE).

They issue concessions for regions or specific lines.[1]

The main operators are Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), Arriva, Connexxion, Transdev, Syntus, Qbuzz and the local operators GVB, HTM, RET. Qbuzz operates public transport in Utrecht on behalf of Bestuur Regio Utrecht using the trademark U-OV.[2]

Public transport translates as openbaar vervoer in Dutch, which is abbreviated as ov. The abbreviation appears in names related to public transport.



Railway tracks for public transport in the Netherlands

Main article: Rail transport in the Netherlands

Rail transport for public transport is operated mainly by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), minor parts by Arriva, Syntus, Connexxion, DB Regio and Eurobahn. The Dutch rail network is the busiest network in the entire world[citation needed].


Three rapid transit systems currently operate in the Netherlands. Both are largely grade-separated, have standard gauge, 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) track, and use 750 volt DC power supply throughout.

Both the Amsterdam and Rotterdam networks largely use third rail power supply, but include sections using overhead lines. The RandstadRail metro line E uses third rail in the sections shared with Rotterdam metro trains, but mostly use overhead wires. These sections also have some level crossings (with priority), and could therefore also be called sneltram (light rail) instead of metro; however, they are integrated in the metro system and use vehicles that can switch between both systems.

Trams and light rail

See also Tramlijnen in Nederland (in Dutch)

RandstadRail in Zoetermeer

Three cities in the Netherlands operate large tram networks. They all run on standard gauge, 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) track, and use overhead wires electrified at 600 V DC.

There are also two light rail networks in the Netherlands. They all run on standard gauge, 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) track, and use overhead wires electrified at 750 V DC.

In the Netherlands, the only difference between a tram and a light rail line is considered to be that light rail doesn't share its lane with other traffic. Some lines could be partially seen as light rail such as Amsterdam tram line 26, which is only mixed with other traffic on both its balloon loops. However, Amsterdam tram line 25 does not operate in mixed traffic and operates as light rail using bidirectional trams that can be coupled in pairs.


Utrecht runs bi-articulated buses

Both regional and city public transport bus services can be found throughout the country. Because of the extensive rail network, long-distance bus services are limited to a few connections where train connections are missing or would require a considerable detour. In the Randstad area lines with a high frequency and higher average speed have been branded as R-Net.

All bus operations (except for in the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague) are awarded by a transport authority to companies by a public tender. The concessions can last up to 10 years, with extensions of a few years if the transport authority is satisfied.

Operators include Arriva, Connexxion, GVB, Hermes (including Breng), HTM, Qbuzz, RET, EBS and Syntus.

Arnhem is the only city that still operates trolleybuses and maintains an extensive network.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has decided that from 2025 all new buses need to be zero emission. This encourages operators to invest in electric vehicles. In December 2016, the first large electric (non-trolley) bus fleet was launched in Eindhoven, with 43 vehicles, followed in December 2017 by a fleet of 100 vehicles for services around Schiphol Airport.


Tram in The Hague in R-net livery

R-net [nl] (or Randstadnet) is a collaborative project of governments and public transport operators providing high-quality public transport in the Randstad area of the Netherlands. Lines in the Randstad area with a high frequency and higher average speed have been branded as R-Net. These lines (be they bus, tram, metro or train) all use the R-net red-grey colour scheme and carry the R-net logo, regardless of the company operating the line.[3]: over R-net 

R-net is an initiative of the cooperating provinces of Flevoland, North Holland and South Holland, plus the Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and Vervoerregio Amsterdam (Amsterdam regional transport). Carriers offering R-net services are Allgobus, Arriva, Connexxion, EBS, GVB, HTM, NS, Qbuzz and RET.[3]: over R-net 

According to its website, R-net requires certain standards to be met. Services must be reliable and punctual, fast, frequent, accessible (e.g. for wheelchairs) and attractive with respect to stop design and comfort.[3]: 5 zekerheden  All R-net stops must be fully accessible, and equipped with waiting shelters and digital displays showing real-time travel information.[3]: over R-net  Transfers between R-net services must be quick and easy.[4]

In Amsterdam, Vervoerregio Amsterdam decided to use the R-net livery and logo on all metro trains but on only one tram line (25). The GVB blue-white livery is used on all other Amsterdam tram lines.[5] In the GVB's order for 72 15G trams from CAF, 25 trams have in R-net livery with the remainder in GVB livery.[6]

Hours of service, and frequency

On most lines there is no public transport at night. Services usually start between 5:00 and 7:00 on weekdays, a bit later on Saturdays, and even later than that on Sundays. Apart from quiet, rural lines, most services end just after midnight. Also there is no public transport from 20:00 on New Year's Eve.

There is a night service on some train routes. There are night bus services in a number of cities, but only around Amsterdam services are on all nights, other cities only have services on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights. Sometimes these run during the first part of the night only, or in one direction only.[7] Night buses usually have separate fares, which are higher than the daytime fares.

From November to March the stretch Hoek van Holland Haven - Hoek van Holland Strand (not on the hoofdrailnet) is served only between 11 am and 4 pm.

Even apart from special rush hour bus lines, some bus lines do not operate on Saturdays, Sundays and/or evenings.

The frequency of domestic trains is at least twice per hour during daytime on weekdays, except on two services by Arriva. Almost all timetables are planned on a clock-face schedule since 1971 and apart from a few regional lines all trains have a symmetry around x:00/x:30 as have neighboring countries. On many lines services are combined to 4x per hour during day or peak times. From December 2017 Intercity services between Amsterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven are increased to six trains per hour. Zwolle and Zupthen are full hubs, with (almost) all trains arriving and departing around the same time, creating a connection from and to each direction. At the larger stations frequencies are higher and only certain cross-platform transfers are timed.

Metros operate on frequencies of at least 4x per hour, with 6 to 10 trains per hour during day and peak times, but often two lines are combined on busier stretches, increasing the total frequency.

Trams mostly have a frequency of 6x per hour, with less services on late evenings and Sundays, but busy lines can have up to 15 trams per hour.

Buses vary greatly in services, depending on the population density of the area, quality of service and demand for transportion. Rural bus services have typically hourly or half-hourly frequencies, but if a bus line serves multiple important hubs or towns, frequencies can be much higher. In larger cities the frequencies are mostly 4x per hour or more. Line 12 in Utrecht was the busiest bus line in the Netherlands, with up to 30 departures per hour using bi-articulated buses. During peak times there was no fixed frequency, but staff members on the bus platforms monitored the passenger flow and would call a new bus in as soon as the previous bus was filled. As of 15 december 2019 the busline was replaced with the newly built tram 22.

Fares and tickets

You can travel using contactless payments on all Dutch public transport [3]: on all domestic trains, metros, trams and busses, nationwide [4]. You travel 2nd class, regular full price. The price is the same[5] as using the anonymous ov-chipcard (see below). You do not need an app or ticket, nor do you have to register or signup to use this. Apple Pay, Google Pay and many contactless debit and credit cards can directly be used [6].

Travelling using contactless works as following [7]: At the start of your journey, place your smartphone or bank card in front of the reader to check-in. At the end of your journey, or if you transfer, check-out at the same way. If you use a bank card, be sure to remove it from your wallet, to ensure that the system uses the right card. The costs will be shown in your bank transfer statement the next day, along with a website link and code to get your travel itinerary [8].

The OV-chipkaart provides ticket integration for most public transport, while the National Tariff System is being phased out. Paper railway tickets were abolished in July 2014 and replaced by disposable cards. If the user doesn't have a (valid) season ticket a base fare + distance fare is charged. NS has a degressive fare system, where longer distances are cheaper per kilometre.

A public transport pass for train (2nd class), bus, metro and tram OV-Vrij costs €4640,40 / year (2017). It is also valid on the Veolia Transport Fast Ferries Vlissingen-Breskens, the Fast Flying Ferry Amsterdam-IJmuiden, and the Waterbus routes Rotterdam-Dordrecht, Dordrecht-Zwijndrecht, Dordrecht-Papendrecht, and Dordrecht-Sliedrecht. It is not valid on most other ferries, nor on the Thalys. On Intercity Direct the regular supplement is required between Rotterdam and Schiphol only. The card is relatively expensive compared to the Off-Peak Free Pass (in Dutch: Dal Vrij abonnement) for €1118 / year, allowing free journeys with NS and other train companies, starting in the off-peak hours.

For children under 4 no ticket is needed.

For children of 4 years and older, but younger than 12, and also for people of 65 and older, there is a discount of 34% in bus, tram and metro; this discount also applies to the youth aged between 12 until 18 in the province of North Brabant. In the case of use of an OV-chipkaart, the personal version is required. NS makes a distinction between children of 4-11 travelling with an adult (cheap Railrunner ticket), and those travelling alone or with each other (40% discount on the full fare, no additional discount when already benefiting the 40% off-peak discount).

See also rail fares in the Netherlands and NS fares and tickets.


Route planners

A country-wide public transport route planners for all modes is 9292.[8]

A similar route planner is of NS.[9] However, it does not show any maps, except of the railway stations of departure, transfer, and arrival and their surroundings.[10]

Apart from NS some more operators offer their own route planner, but these may not take other operators into account. Connexxion's route planner produces a map showing the points of departure, transfer and arrival, connected by straight lines.


Prorail provides a railway map showing all stations, and showing at a point where lines A, B and C meet whether A splits into B and C, or B into A and C etc.[11] NS provides a schematic railway map with all railways for public transport, not showing at a point where lines A, B and C meet whether A splits into B and C, or B into A and C etc., so it does not show whether a train has to reverse direction when going from A to B etc.[12] There is also a dynamic version showing disruptions[13] and a version with indications of routes of train series, with their frequencies and stops.[14]

Common varieties of bus route maps include:

The first two types also clearly show railways and all railway stations. Highways are shown, but characteristic of these maps is that they are shown unobtrusively. The maps are provided as pdf-file of up to 7MB. For some pdf-viewers on smartphones this may be rather large. In that case a workaround is to create submaps with PrintScreen. Since the regular pdf-viewer allows any choice of zoom level, any selection of the map, and the full-screen modus, this allows the creation of submaps with the maximum of information that fits on the screen.

Some operators only provide dynamic maps which cannot be directly downloaded. A workaround is downloading detail maps one by one (if necessary produced by PrintScreen), but, more than making submaps from a large pdf-file as mentioned above, this is a cumbersome procedure and results in a large collection of small detail maps without convenient navigation between them. (Even more cumbersome but with a better result is to paste groups of these small maps together.)[18]

The route planners do not provide in their results links to any of these route maps, these maps have to be looked up separately.


Public transport timetables are partly available.


The Spoorboekje is a collection of time tables in the form of pdf files, covering a year, but with intermediate renewal when needed (the physical timetable book was abolished in December 2010). It covers all operators of rail transport in the Netherlands, except those of heritage railways; it gives the departure times (and sometimes arrival times), but not the tracks. For international trains to and from the Netherlands, for the data for the parts abroad only a summary is given.

It provides tables with services in columns, arranged by timetable number and direction (a and b). A train route can involve multiple timetable numbers; an equal train service number indicates that columns in two tables refer to the same train.

For train services which do not operate daily throughout the year there are footnotes explaining the whole set of days of the year on which it operates.

Since a few years, the website gives out a private timetable for the Netherlands. These are available online and at some station shops.

Bus, tram and metro

PDF files with timetables (sometimes many small files, sometimes a few large ones) are available on the sites of several operators. The tables are arranged similarly to the Spoorboekje, except that for each line and direction there are three separate tables: for Monday-Friday, for Saturday, and for Sunday. Also, they show the times for selected stops only. Some operators only provide for reading the tables on the screen, not for downloading them.[19] A workaround is using PrintScreen, but this is cumbersome if one wants to download many pages. In at least one case [20] the pdf file is apparently prepared for being printed only, not for reading from the screen: the tables are rotated. Not only are some screens not easy to rotate, also the tables are often wider than high, like a screen, making rotation less desirable. Thus every time the file is loaded the rotate function has to be applied.

Also paper leaflets or small booklets with the timetable of a single line or a few lines are often available free of charge, and larger booklets are often for sale.


Most trains and some ferries have a toilet, while buses, trams and metros do not. See also toilets in trains in the Netherlands and hoofdrailnet.

See also


  1. ^ Concessions; see also nl:Concessies in het Nederlandse openbaar vervoer#Overzicht concessies.
  2. ^ "Openbaar Vervoer" (in Dutch). Bestuur Regio Utrecht. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "Dit is R-net" (in Dutch). R-net. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  4. ^ "R-net" (in Dutch). R-net. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Nieuwe trams voor vernieuwde Amstelveenlijn krijgen R-netkleuren". Amstelveenlijn (in Dutch). Gemeente Vervoerbedrijf. 24 May 2017. Archived from the original on 31 May 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Nieuwe 15G trams". Gemeente Vervoerbedrijf (in Dutch). 8 March 2021. Retrieved 3 March 2021.}
  7. ^ See for example Connexxion-Niteliner Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ 9292 route planner in English; 9292 is the brand name of REISinformatiegroep bv, of which all public transport companies in The Netherlands are shareholders. For situations where one does not have internet access and for people who like to speak to a live advisor there is also the premium-rate telephone number 0900 9292 (€ 0,70 p/m); the information can be told, and additionally without extra charge be sent as text message.
  9. ^ NS route planner: basic version in English, extended version in Dutch
  10. ^ Not working at the time of writing.
  11. ^ ProRail railway map Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ NS railway map Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine; it is produced by Carto Studio, see Carto Studio page about maps for public transport
  13. ^ Dynamic railway map showing disruptions
  14. ^ Treinreiziger railway map
  15. ^ Mostly from Carto Studio (see e.g. Carto Studio page about maps for public transport), for example Connexxion map Duin- en Bollenstreek Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ For example the common map of Rotterdam and surrounding region for RET and other operators (pdf) and Connexxion map Dordrecht Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, both of Carto Studio. The first uses colors based on properties, such as red lines for frequent bus services, regardless of the operator; the second uses the more common system of different colors for each line of the operator concerned, and grey for lines of other operators. Another example is the downloadable GVB map "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) by F.I.S. Cartografie; like in the first example, colors are based on properties, regardless of the operator, but here without distinction by frequency.
  17. ^ For example Small map of the route of Connexxion bus line 90, with all stops, obtained at after selecting a bus line, and clicking "Toon routekaart" (show route map). The underlying maps with unspecified producer are of a different style than the bus network maps.
  18. ^ Systems used:
    • Continuously selectable submaps using Adobe Flash Player: HTM map Archived 20 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine, by Carto Studio (see [1])
    • Discrete submaps: GVU map, by Mapminded [2] Archived 23 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. The map is provided in the form of 9×9 detail maps, where each can be reached through the overview map and also from an adjacent detail map.
  19. ^ For example Example of Connexxion timetable booklet.
  20. ^ OV-gids Overijssel