Dutch public transport is offered in many forms, from trains, buses and trams to watertaxis, ferries and bicycles. Read on for an overview of public transportation in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and rest of the Netherlands…
TRAIN: NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) is the national rail service operator in Holland and majority owned by the Dutch government. There are three types of trains: Intercity (express), Sprinter (local) and High Speed. NS International provides service into neighboring countries.
TRAM: Tram service is provided at the municipal level. Only 4 cities in the Netherlands operate tram transport systems: Amsterdam (GVB), The Hague (HTM), Rotterdam (RET) and Utrecht (Qbuzz). In all cases, tram service goes beyond municipal borders into neighboring cities. Amsterdam’s trams reach Amstelveen and Diemen, The Hague’s trams connect Delft, Rijswijk, Wateringen, Voorburg and Leidschendam. Rotterdam’s trams reach Schiedam and Barendrecht and Utrecht’s trams reach Ijsselstein and Nieuwegein.
METRO: Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the only two cities that operate underground Metro systems.
The Amsterdam Metro operates five lines (50/51/52/53/54) which extend from Amsterdam into the neighboring municipalities of Amstelveen, Diemen and Oude-Amstel.
Rotterdam’s Metro also has five lines (A/B/C/D/E) which extend from the city to the neighboring municipalities of Capelle aan den Ijssel and Schiedam. Beurs is the hub station for the Rotterdam Metro as it is the only station through which all 5 lines run.
RANDSTADRAIL: This light-rail transport system connects Rotterdam, The Hague and Zoetermeer through a corridor of suburb towns that includes Bergschenkoek, Berkel en Rodenrijs, Pijnacker, Nootdorp, Leidschendam and Voorburg.
RET operates the north-south route (Line E) from Rotterdam’s Slinge area in the south of the city to Den Haag Central Station in The Hague at the north end. This leg of the RandstadRail is 27 km long. Key stops along the route include Zuidplein (Zuidplein shopping mall, Ahoy arena), Wilhelminaplein (Nieuwe Luxor Theater), Beurs (Koopgoot), Blijdorp (Rotterdam Zoo), Meijersplein (Rotterdam-The Hague Airport) and Forepark (Cars Jeans Stadium).
Bikes are allowed on Metro E (no extra charge) on weekdays from 09:00-16:30 and after 18:30 and Saturday/Sunday all day.
HTM operates the east-west RandstadRail service which consists of two routes: – Line 3 runs from Arnold Spoelplein in The Hague’s Loosduinen district to Centrum West in Zoetermeer – Line 4 runs from De Uithof in The Hague’s Escamp district to Javalaan on the east side of Zoetermeer
Key stops along the routes include Forepark (Cars Jeans Stadium), Voorweg Laag/Voorweg Hoog (Boerderij concert hall), Centrum West (Stadshart shopping mall, Woonhart home mall). Bikes can be taken on RandstadRail lines 3/4 (no extra charge) on weekdays after 19:00 and all day on weekends.
BUS: Bus service in the Netherlands is operated at the municipal level. Key bus transport providers are GVB in the Amsterdam region, HTM in the Haaglanden region (includes The Hague), RET in the Rijnmond region (includes Rotterdam), Connexxion, Arriva and Qbuzz in other areas.
WATERBUS: Due to the topography of the province’s southern portion, water transport is an efficient means of travel. Waterbus service is operated by Aquabus connecting the Rotterdam metro area with the Dordrecht metro area, including suburb towns in between (such as Krimpen aan den Ijssel, Ridderkerk, Kinderdijk, Alblasserdam, Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, Papendrecht, Zwijndrecht and Sliedrecht). The catamaran-looking boats stop at key landings along the route which makes the Waterbus service a great option for sightseeing (they offer a hop-on-hop-off ticket and you can bring your bicycle on at no additional charge).
BICYCLE: OV-Fiets are bicycles which can be rented at all major train stations in Holland. You use the same OV-Chipcard (universal travel card) used for train, bus, metro, tram and ferry transport. In order to access this service, you must load the OV-Fiets app onto your OV-Chipcard and then you are good to go. Reservations are not required. Simply select a bicycle and the attendant will scan the bar code on the bike as well as your card.
WATERTAXI: In Rotterdam, Watertaxi transport is offered along the Maas river and offshoot waterways with nearly 50 boarding locations spanning from Kinderdijk in the east to the port of Rotterdam in the west and Pernis and Spijkenisse in the south. Rates are by distance. Extended transport can be requested for as far as Dordrecht. The watertaxi boats travel at up to 50 kph, are windproof and heated during colder months.
FERRY: There are many ferry services operating within Holland, due to its many lakes and waterways. Some of these include Amsterdam ferry lines (operated by GVB), Maassluis-Rozenburg Ferry (operated by Connexxion), Hook of Holland-Maasvlakte Fast Ferry (operated by RET), Schoonhoven-Groot Ammers Ferry and the Enkhuizen-Stavoren Ferry which connects the province of Friesland to the province of North Holland across the Ijsselmeer (the largest lake in the Netherlands).
AIR: Scheduled airline flights are offered at several airports in the Netherlands. These include Schiphol Amsterdam Airport (AMS) (Europe’s third largest airport based on passenger volume), Eindhoven Airport (EIN), Rotterdam-The Hague Airport (RTM), Groningen Airport Eelde (GRQ) and Maastricht Aachen Airport (MAA). All offer flights to destinations in Europe. Schiphol also offers international overseas flights to destinations around the world. KLM is the Dutch national airline.