The strippenkaart

One of my most enduring memories of times that have been spent in The Netherlands over the years – and there have been a worrying number – is that of the unique strippenkaarten.

This is a card for the local bus and tram network that spreads throughout the country, and works in a delightfully old-fashioned way. Basically, you have a strip of 15 tickets (or more if you buy a larger one). Each time you go somewhere, you must make sure that you punch the correct ticket, according to the length of the journey, by folding the strip at the correct place.

So, for example, to travel from work to central station, it would cost me three strips.

Now, I hear, much to my dismay, that a new system is coming in, which will be much more along the lines of London’s Oyster card. Already, the machines are in place to make the switch-over.

This is a great shame. Whilst few people lamented the decline of the old London ticket system, the switch-over in the Netherlands will be a far greater loss.

Here is a unique, quite beautifully original system. An ancient system steeped in nostalgia. A system which, for me, holds so many wonderful memories.

Yes, it will be a sad day when it goes.

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