Tram, Train, Bus… A musing on Public Transportation in the Netherlands

Public transportation in the Netherlands

Tram. Train. Bus. Bus. Train. Tram.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve wished I could teleport home. Skip the whole tram-train-bus to get to work and then the same rigamarole home again in the evening. Is it too late to learn how to apparate? Is there somewhere I can buy floo powder; some fireplace I can use?

Until I get my Hogwarts letter in the mail (I’m at the prime age to go for a second degree okay!), public transport it is! Here’s what to expect when taking public transportation in the Netherlands

Taking the Metro in the Netherlands

I’m a total germaphobe and if I have to stand in a metro I am grossly conscious of the hand I’m using to hold the rail for stability. I’m racking my brains to remember if I brought my hand sanitiser with me. I’m watching the guy nearby like a hawk- he sneezes into his hand and then puts that exact same hand back on the rail. I’m mentally cringing and trying not to think about how many people have done that exact same thing hundreds of times today.

I’m trying not to sit opposite that overly affectionate couple who make me self-conscious of my single status. To keep my eyes open for the elderly so I can offer them my seat. To not feel old as I hear the morning chatter of the teens on the M52, on their angst-filled way to high school. To ignore the creepy guy staring at me, and act cool for the handsome, disinterested one sitting next to me. To figure out the name of the book the woman standing over there is reading. To not fall on top of the stranger next to me as the inertia of the metro hits whilst pulling into a stop.

public transportation in the Netherlands
Public transportation in the Netherlands: Busy, busy, busy.

I enjoy the metro. I get to wonder about the lives of the humans around me. To try figure out what weird or wonderful thing she has in that big box she is carrying; to which country the tired man with a backpack the size of a child is flying to; which venue that guy is lugging his cello off to. I get to avoid the traffic, the road range and all the other hassels of driving. I let the metro conductor worry about all that stuff. All I have to do is put on some good music and observe the wonder of humanity on the metro and my thoughts as I enjoy my stress-free ride.


Taking the Train in the Netherlands

At the best of times, I love the train. Quicker than the metro, less bumpy than the bus, a smooth, calm ride all the way… perhaps too smooth? The rhythm of the train ride is incredibly soothing.

I’m sure I am not alone in this sentiment. If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat, you can sit back, relax and be gently rocked to sleep. Although it hasn’t happened yet, I am patiently waiting to “accidentally” nod off and miss my stop.

public transportation in the Netherlands
Public transportation in the Netherlands: Once you get your seat, you’re sorted

Lately, I’ve been seriously considering catching a train to nowhere in particular, for the simple joy of being lulled to sleep. Not having to worry about missing my stop. Just having a really good nap with no rude awakening in Utrecht or Rotterdam Centraal. I will board the train just to sleep. That’s probably the only time I will go on record as volunteering to take public transport. When it comes to a train ride however, I will be the first to volunteer as tribute.


Taking the Bus in the Netherlands

When I’m not getting thrown around on a bus like a leaf blowing in the wind, I am probably waiting for a bus. If it’s in a city other than Amsterdam, the chances that the bus I’m waiting on will drive right past me are quite high. I’m not used to having to flag a bus down! What is this- New York?

It can’t be denied though, that riding the bus in the Netherlands is a luxurious experience. The busses have fancy monitors that show the stops, some have wifi and some even have USB chargers. It’s like being in an aeroplane, but on land!


Taking the Tram in the Netherlands

It never fails to amaze me the number of seats occupied by bags and backpacks when there are numerous people standing. It will be one of those busy transport times and someone still has the audacity to leave a bag on the seat next to them, hoping no one asks them to move said bag. Usually people won’t. They’ll walk past Mr Bag sitting snugly in his seat, and take a place near the door, giving him the right amount of personal space like the human being he is.

public transportation in the Netherlands
Public transportation in the Netherlands: Bag-seat hoggers – they exist…

The tram is special though. It is the only form of public transport where you can find a designated customer service conductor on board. How fancy is that!? He or she is sitting behind a little desk, greeting you with a smile, ready to patiently answer the question they have been asked 50 times that day by every tourist.

The true joy of a tram ride was captured so wonderfully by a French tourist I met on tram 5 a while ago. She assumed I spoke French too, and in between her life story, she told me in Frenglish that she preferred the tram to the metro because she likes to see the city as she gets around. Vraiment! There are few things greater than getting to watch the sunset on the tram ride home. So true madame, so true!

Ah, public transport… Hate it? Love it? In the Netherlands, you’ll probably have to take it!

What is your commute like? Do you use public transportation in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!

Shaakira Vania
Shaakira Vania
20-something year old traveller, coconut lover (Seriously-anything coconut), and Libran. I recently made the cross-continent move to Amsterdam and spend my weekends exploring the country, meeting new people and telling myself I will finish a book every month (a promise I'm yet to keep). If I had to sum myself up in three words they would be: quirky, curious, and meme-lover.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

At this bank you can ACTUALLY earn 4% on your savings

Sick and tired of savings accounts that serve you a big, fat 0% in interest? Well, we've got exciting news for you, as this...

Utilities in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide to gas, electricity, and water

Before you can enjoy your charming new Dutch home, there’s one essential task to tackle: setting up your utilities in the Netherlands.  Having a smooth...

Violence, drugs, and bad hygiene: UN describes Dutch reception centre as “downright worrying”

A Dutch refugee registration centre in Ter Apel has found itself making headlines — and it's not good news. With a large influx of...

It's happening

Upcoming events

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.