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Old August 16th, 2013, 08:46 AM   #761
M-NL
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But they can't close te stations. Not unless they man them again.
Apart from the fact that manning a station is a good idea in my book, I don't see any need for that. You could have the standard automatic gates and secondary access that's controlled from a central location. Regardless how you enter the station, you must always have a valid ticket while on the platform. They're already working on one time chip tickets, so there is no reason this couldn't work.

Also consider that you need less fare dodging teams, because it's much less likely that you can enter a station without a valid ticket.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 09:53 AM   #762
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I think all old Voordeelurenabonnement already expired, didn't they? Did NS sell those discount passes valid for more than 1 year?
The old Voordeelurenabonnement is a pass which is renewed yearly, until you cancel it or until NS stops offering it. When introducing the new passes, NS said they would not be cancelling the VDU anytime soon, instead they would let their customers decide for themselves if the new passes are more attractive.

What NS did do is automatically cancelling a VDU if a new pass is ordered on the same OV-chipkaart as where the VDU is on. Some people fell for that, as it wasn't communicated very clearly (it's noted somewhere in the FAQ, but that's about it).
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Old August 16th, 2013, 12:14 PM   #763
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Apart from the fact that manning a station is a good idea in my book, I don't see any need for that. You could have the standard automatic gates and secondary access that's controlled from a central location. Regardless how you enter the station, you must always have a valid ticket while on the platform. They're already working on one time chip tickets, so there is no reason this couldn't work.

Also consider that you need less fare dodging teams, because it's much less likely that you can enter a station without a valid ticket.
There is no money for manning all the stations, and even if there was, there are better ways to spend it.

The thing with gating unmanned stations is how you cope with:
- malfunctions.
- people who can't use the gates
- people who jump the gates

In the UK the gates are open when there is no staff on duty.

And what about people traveling on paper tickets?
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Old August 16th, 2013, 12:43 PM   #764
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Manning the stations or equiping them with gates would not solve the problems with OV-C over which I am talking about.

It would certainly not solve

a) Splitting the journey keeping the price of paper ticket
b) Taking different journey than the shortest route, but paying for the shortest route
c) You would have to start selling a platform tickets (a payments just for entering the platform, i.e. when someone wants to pick up someone else). Like the good old days.
d) Splitting the journey between two operators
e) Group tickets
f) Special pricing offers etc.

In my eyes, the unmanned stations and automatic ticket machines are the best approach and I really always liked it. In the current situation there is no way how a checking poles could replace ticket vending machines though. And anyway as mostly make 20 euro plus trips and I don't want to keep too much balance on the OV-C since I don't use it regularly anymore, I use the ticket vending machine almost every-time I use the OV-C, just to charge it, so it does not bring real time advantage. I can work nicely for the shorter distance commuters, or with traject services though.

The trains on the other hand have to be always manned. It would be much more productive to move more men to the trains.

Last edited by Surel; August 16th, 2013 at 12:49 PM.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 04:33 PM   #765
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I think two separate discussions got entangled.

1- Level of staffing on stations and trains. Netherlands is a country with relatively high wages. Operators also run lots of trains and there is a dense network of stations. Manning all of these stations and increasing train staffing would put a serious cost pressure on NS, Veolia, Arriva, Syntus and others. It would also make stations with lower patronage more prone to closure due to staff costs. Even if you decide to fence stations off, you don't need a full-time employee as long as there are proper equipment there (such as gate which can be easily opened from the inside on emergencies). There are many subway stations out there operating without permanent staff.

2- Whether RFID-card ticketing is a good solution. Overall, I'd say RFID cars are pretty neat: they don't require swapping, just close proximity, and they can write/re-write information easily. Successful massive ticketing systems like Oyster Card and Octupus card operate on systems much busier than those of Netherlands. So, no, there is nothing inherently wrong with RFID-based ticketing. RFID is fast and practica in comparison to any other alternative that requires reading some ticket (magnetic, perforated paper, barcode - let alone mechanical stamping)

3- Integration and design of software managing the ticketing system and the fare policy. This is where Netherlands is still lacking a more consistent product (though the situation improved from 2011 a lot). The major problem is the fact they didn't adopt an integrated database managed by a third-party, which would have meant a separate operator that would fit its readers and served cards for all operators. Therefore, problems arise regarding trips involving different operators, sometimes. But this has nothing to do with some inherent problem of RFID cards.

What can be done to improve the situation of the OV-Chipkaart:

1) to quash criticism of people complaining about not knowing the cost of a trip on long-distance travel, allow for those who want to load their cards with single-trip tickets, and make the check-in machines (or at least some of them, clearly marked) into loading machines that will upload orders to your card as well. Allow people to buy single tickets online or with apps and then have them picked up on the check-in machines.

2) bring some consultants to make integration between train providers' software solutions, so that they recognize each others activity or consider previous activity.

3) allow people to link their OV-Chipkaarts directly with their bank accounts, eliminating the need to pre-charge them and allowing payment upon check-out (with a reasonably high, say € 50, charge for those who don't check out and don't fill an online request for that within 72 hours).

=============================

Surel, I think many of your criticisms arise from active fare policy changes that were enabled, though not necessarily constrained by the adoption of OV-Chipkaart.

Prices for one-way journeys was reduced in 2011 to the price of half return ticket (around 5% reduction), thus making the return discount moot. The maximum price for a one-way journey was set at half the price of the old Dagkaart (many long routes will return the same cost - € 24,60 one-way which is half the cost of old dagkaart).

Urban transportation companies in major cities (RET, HTM and GVB) faced big budget cuts in 2010-11. They were considered for privatization/concession. They mulled some much more drastic service cuts (especially buses and low-patronage tram routes). Instead, they opted to jack-up the kilometer-fare. It was raised by almost 40% in Den Haag and more than 25% in Rotterdam since 2010. Thus, fares went up. But that is not some ingeniously stealth plot to rob people's money - it was a policy decision to raise fares instead of reducing more service, since they lost part of their national government funding for operations.
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Last edited by Suburbanist; August 16th, 2013 at 04:42 PM.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 07:12 PM   #766
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I tThere are many subway stations out there operating without permanent staff.
Can you give me an example? How do those systems deal with people who can't use the gates?
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Old August 16th, 2013, 07:30 PM   #767
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Can you give me an example? How do those systems deal with people who can't use the gates?
In those cases, assistance is provided from a central control room. Gates can be opened remotely.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 07:57 PM   #768
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Most of Turin underground stations work that way. Once I was in an unmanned station, the machine didn't read my ticket, I called the central room and they opened the exact gate for me.
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Old August 17th, 2013, 11:09 AM   #769
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Surel, I think many of your criticisms arise from active fare policy changes that were enabled, though not necessarily constrained by the adoption of OV-Chipkaart.

Prices for one-way journeys was reduced in 2011 to the price of half return ticket (around 5% reduction), thus making the return discount moot. The maximum price for a one-way journey was set at half the price of the old Dagkaart (many long routes will return the same cost - € 24,60 one-way which is half the cost of old dagkaart).

Urban transportation companies in major cities (RET, HTM and GVB) faced big budget cuts in 2010-11. They were considered for privatization/concession. They mulled some much more drastic service cuts (especially buses and low-patronage tram routes). Instead, they opted to jack-up the kilometer-fare. It was raised by almost 40% in Den Haag and more than 25% in Rotterdam since 2010. Thus, fares went up. But that is not some ingeniously stealth plot to rob people's money - it was a policy decision to raise fares instead of reducing more service, since they lost part of their national government funding for operations.
I don't think that this was the core of my criticism. But anyway. It kind of shows, in my eyes, the poor implementation.

The return trip price had to be equalized of course. Why? Because the OV-C technology does not allow at the current implementation a special fare for return trips. Simple as that. It does not offer any special fares indeed as a daily card. It allows only special monthly tariffs.

Simply said, it in no way replaces paper ticket possibilities. This in my eyes is a backwards implementation. A technology change should be a Pareto effective. It should offer at least what the previous technology offered. In fact it should offer more. The OV-C does not fulfill this. It on one side offers better service, on the other side it reduces the service. And in the case of trains I don't think that the trade off, including the investment cost, was at the moment positive in the sense of creating more welfare.

It could have been positive in the sense of creating more profit to the Operators. (especially the interest free loan).
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Old August 17th, 2013, 12:14 PM   #770
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What can be done to improve the situation of the OV-Chipkaart:
3) allow people to link their OV-Chipkaarts directly with their bank accounts, eliminating the need to pre-charge them and allowing payment upon check-out (with a reasonably high, say € 50, charge for those who don't check out and don't fill an online request for that within 72 hours).
I think that already takes place. After the initial payment and some paper work my OV card charges itself from my bank account.
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Old August 17th, 2013, 03:57 PM   #771
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I think that already takes place. After the initial payment and some paper work my OV card charges itself from my bank account.
Nope, you just allow automatic pre-charging. The difference is, that if you pre-charge your card, the money leaves your account and land on the account of the operator, without you ever using the service. If you paid directly, as with any bank card, the money are paid just in the moment you use the service.

Its in fact interesting, why the whole hassle about OV-C. I have bank cards that allow wireless transactions up to 20 euro. My identification is with the card. With a enough robust system, that would identify you on the ckeck in and check out, this could be easily implemented instead of the OV-C.
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Old August 17th, 2013, 05:23 PM   #772
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NS is working on implementing a post-paid system of fare collection. Once a month, you'll get an invoice for all journeys made that month. It's already available for people having a NS Business Card
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Old August 17th, 2013, 09:04 PM   #773
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Nope, you just allow automatic pre-charging. The difference is, that if you pre-charge your card, the money leaves your account and land on the account of the operator, without you ever using the service. If you paid directly, as with any bank card, the money are paid just in the moment you use the service.

Its in fact interesting, why the whole hassle about OV-C. I have bank cards that allow wireless transactions up to 20 euro. My identification is with the card. With a enough robust system, that would identify you on the ckeck in and check out, this could be easily implemented instead of the OV-C.
One of the problems might be that the OV-C never got certified as a 'payment card' because it would never make the strict security protocols. There are plans to change this, to make the card more multi-functional (like the Hong Kong Octopus card which you can use to pay at shops, like the old Dutch chip-card but wireless).
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Old August 17th, 2013, 10:09 PM   #774
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Most of Turin underground stations work that way. Once I was in an unmanned station, the machine didn't read my ticket, I called the central room and they opened the exact gate for me.
So if you want to travel for free on the Turin Metro you just call the control room and claim you ticket doesn't work?
Great system...
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Old August 19th, 2013, 08:54 AM   #775
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3) allow people to link their OV-Chipkaarts directly with their bank accounts, eliminating the need to pre-charge them and allowing payment upon check-out (with a reasonably high, say € 50, charge for those who don't check out and don't fill an online request for that within 72 hours).
Please not. They also want start using the OV Chipcard to pay for small things at stations like snacks or bicycle parking. When your card gets lost or stolen someone can have a lavish diner on your account before you may even notice you have lost your card. And because most cards are lost at stations, good luck trying to get a refund for this, because it's nearly impossible to prove it wasn't you.

Quote:
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Prices for one-way journeys was reduced in 2011 to the price of half return ticket (around 5% reduction), thus making the return discount moot. The maximum price for a one-way journey was set at half the price of the old Dagkaart (many long routes will return the same cost - € 24,60 one-way which is half the cost of old dagkaart).
Information about the last few trips you made are stored on the card and by the back office system. Would it have been so difficult to program the system in such a way that when you do the exact same trip in the opposite direction on the same day you automatically get a round trip discount?

In fact the chip system would have allowed all kinds of discounts, like travel within this zone off-peak and you only pay 1 euro per trip, but (nearly?) all of that has been eliminated.
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Old August 19th, 2013, 12:14 PM   #776
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What is so good about having a discount for a return trip? In NL, the return discount was only a small amount, but in the UK it is quite normal for a return to be the same or only slightly more than the single. This means that trips involving a triangle of journeys (i.e. A to B to C to A) are prohibitively expensive if you buy tickets for immediate travel. Only if you buy train restricted tickets (called 'Advances') can a triangular trip be made economically, because those are sold as singles only.
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Old August 19th, 2013, 03:41 PM   #777
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Information about the last few trips you made are stored on the card and by the back office system. Would it have been so difficult to program the system in such a way that when you do the exact same trip in the opposite direction on the same day you automatically get a round trip discount?

In fact the chip system would have allowed all kinds of discounts, like travel within this zone off-peak and you only pay 1 euro per trip, but (nearly?) all of that has been eliminated.
It wouldn't, but I honestly don't see the point of offering return trip discounts. At least in Netherlands, where domestic flights or buses are not realistically options for people travelling by train domestically.

It is important to remember NS revamped significantly its discounts and subscription passes after rolling on the OV-Chipkaart. Their focus has been to entice more costumers with subscription passes, on the assumption people will then become repeated costumers.

For instance, today you can sign for a € 99/month that allows you to travel anytime, except on journeys beginning between 6h30-9h and 16h-18h30. It is a bargain by all measures for anyone except commuter travelers. These can take advantage of route-specific passes or the € 390/month anytime pass. They also have the 25/month free weekend travel (Fri 18h30-Mon 4h), and other products. I think NS is doing a good job to use its off-peak capacity, at least in terms of travel offers.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 01:49 PM   #778
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It wouldn't, but I honestly don't see the point of offering return trip discounts. At least in Netherlands, where domestic flights or buses are not realistically options for people travelling by train domestically.

It is important to remember NS revamped significantly its discounts and subscription passes after rolling on the OV-Chipkaart. Their focus has been to entice more costumers with subscription passes, on the assumption people will then become repeated costumers.

For instance, today you can sign for a € 99/month that allows you to travel anytime, except on journeys beginning between 6h30-9h and 16h-18h30. It is a bargain by all measures for anyone except commuter travelers. These can take advantage of route-specific passes or the € 390/month anytime pass. They also have the 25/month free weekend travel (Fri 18h30-Mon 4h), and other products. I think NS is doing a good job to use its off-peak capacity, at least in terms of travel offers.
Well sure, if you are talking about increasing profit for NS, then some policies could be understandable. When you are however talking about increasing welfare, than those policies are wrong. Anyway, I am quite sure that the monthly prepaid passes will not really increase ridership, nor profit. What would need to be compared is direct costs when using a car versus direct costs when using a train. I.e. I don't think that regular monthly payments are also not a option for most of the users, as they have a car already and they have to keep it anyway, although it is better, than just high prices, true. Those offers would become much more attractive if they were available for shorter periods than a year too.

1) Rail modal split of passenger transport is falling in the Netherlands since 2006 with the highest drop in 2011 when OV-C was introduced. Maybe it went up in 2012 I don't know.

2) Off peak offers are quite useless for majority of travels and results in people paying either full price or having to travel on different times. Route specific passes are more expensive than using a car. Not talking about individual tickets. With two or more passengers the car wins virtually everywhere.

The monthly offers are much more sensible than the yearly offers. I don't say that they don't have a place, but I don't think that they are really filling the potential.

Yet further, many of these offers come with advantage for group traveling, however, this again can't be used with the OV-C, but only if the people in the group buy a paper ticket. And that's the point, the OV-C in no way is able to replace a paper ticket variability at the current implementation. (btw, it would be funny what a OV-C card group traveling could do, would we see apps that would be arranging group traveling?).

3) Since the train transport is heavily subsidized by the government, it should follow different policies than profit only policies. It should concentrate on welfare creation.

The ProRail receives around 2 BLN euro from the government, which is not paid by NS and other operators, which is then indirect subsidy to the NS and other operators. Further on, NS and other operators are receiving direct subsidies on certain routes.

Last edited by Surel; August 20th, 2013 at 01:56 PM.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 01:59 PM   #779
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Information about the last few trips you made are stored on the card and by the back office system. Would it have been so difficult to program the system in such a way that when you do the exact same trip in the opposite direction on the same day you automatically get a round trip discount?

In fact the chip system would have allowed all kinds of discounts, like travel within this zone off-peak and you only pay 1 euro per trip, but (nearly?) all of that has been eliminated.
Sure it could do much more, the problem is that the implementation sucks. The question then is, is it intentional, or is it just a implementation payment for the new technology.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 02:31 PM   #780
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Subscription passes are available for a minimum term of 3 months, except when they are going on special sales action (requiring a 12-month commitment).

NS doesn't have much spare capacity at peak times to entice more commuters from road to rail, at least on key routes in the Randstad where road congestion and rail crowding are the highest.
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