Commuters hit by changes to off-peak travel rules

Photo: Jonathan Marks
Photo: Jonathan Marks

Rail users have been hit by changes to the rules for using the NS off-peak discount card that prevent them splitting their journey between full-price and discounted travel.

Off peak travel cards give users 40% off the fare when they travel between 9.30am and 4pm. But the NS has now introduced a single journey charge, so users can no longer split longer journeys where they change trains between peak and off-peak segments.

To split the cost of a trip, passengers must wait for at least 35 minutes between the peak and the off-peak period.

For example, a passenger travelling from The Hague to Nijmegen via Utrecht and leaving at 9am will now pay the full rate for the entire trip, while another card holder sitting next to them between Utrecht and Nijmegen will pay 40% less because they started their journey after rush hour.

The Volkskrant says complaints have been ‘flooding in’ to both the NS and rail users lobby groups.

Opposite effect

NS made the changes to help another group of travellers who had the opposite problem – commuters who started their journey in the off-peak time frame but had to check in for the second stage of their journey during the main rush hour.

Since September 1, passengers pay for the entire trip according to the time at which they started their journey. The change is ‘the lesser of two evils’, a railway spokesman told the paper.

NS says the number of passengers who have been disadvantaged by the change is ‘small’. It advises travellers to buy a second railcard or a separate ticket online for the off-peak part of the journey.

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