Car Versus Public Transit: Why are Public Transport Costs Rising So Fast?

We all know the Netherlands is a city of bikes, but when you have to go long distance those two-wheeled beauties just ‘aint gonna cut it. Thank god the Netherlands has a trusty public transport system, right?

Well, maybe not. Public transport costs have risen faster over a ten year period than the costs for driving a car, according to a new report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics. 

Even after calculating in all the costs associated with owning an automobile like purchase, fuel, servicing, parking costs, insurance, and taxes, the report found that public transport had risen by an additional 5% compared to owning a car, reports

What was the change?

Over ten years, the costs of driving a car rose by 25%. Meanwhile, prices for public transport increased by 30% based on prices for train, tram, metro, bus and taxi.

This is despite cars being particularly expensive to own in the Netherlands, with insurance premiums and parking costs rising sharply (why do we have to pay €45 euro to NOT use a car in Amsterdam?) Around ten times more money is spent on car costs than on public transport costs, while fuel accounts for about a third of this.

So why have public transport costs risen faster?

The main reason is an increase in VAT rates (let’s all say a big thank you to taxes!). In January this year the tax on public transport rose by 3%, making it the largest of all the countries in Europe. That’s probably not something we want to brag about.

Luckily, there are heaps of ways to get public transport at a discounted price so you can save those shiny coins for when you arrive at your destination.

Do you think the price of public transport in the Netherlands is justified? Is owning a car expensive or affordable? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Samantha Dixon

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).
  1. The price of public transport is ridiculous in Netherlands. Officially they want us to be green but a lot of people like me, already owns a car which is a fixed cost. Then it turns out that using train would cost me almost twice than the gasoline. For my job I can’t always use the train but I could do it a few times a month but not if it costs me more money than an individual vehicle with a single passenger.

  2. Well, the difference between commuting by car and public transport is ~ 110€ for me.
    Even with all those traffic jams, it’s not a small amount to be ignored.

    That explains why most of us use cars and contribute to the traffic and the government introducing more taxes for public transport isn’t helping.

    Maybe reliability would’ve justified the €€€ but even that’s not the case.

  3. The public transportation is very expensive in the Netherlands and it is not justified at all. For sure I will prefer to take the car instead of the train, it is way cheaper, and when you think to 2 persons, the costs are more than double when you travel by public transportation. Increasing the price is not an incentive for people to give up the cars. As long as the car continues to be cheaper than the train, the traffic will be more busy form year to year.

  4. We decided to car pool with colleagues instead of using public transport. Indeed it is less expensive to travel together by car… and much faster !

  5. The public transport in the Netherlands is ridiculously expensive. People tend to use cars over public transport not only because public transport is inconvenient but also because it is not saving any costs for you. It is surprising to see that they do not think of being environment friendly and encourage public transport by keeping low costs.


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