Translink, the company which developed and runs the OV-chipkaart public transport smart card system has gained almost €30 million over the past five years from cash held on cards which have expired, the AD said on Tuesday.
Last year alone Translink was able to pocket €9 million – according to the company’s annual report. And a further €36 million could be added to that now cards are out of favour and an increasing number of travellers use their direct debit cards or phone to pay.
Card owners can apply to have the money refunded when their cards expire, but few do so. “People are largely unaware they can apply for a refund and Translink doesn’t advertise the fact widely,” Sanne van Galen of public transport users association Rover told the paper.
“If they spent some of that money on a campaign to alert users then perhaps more people would do so,” she said. The problem is particularly acute for people with anonymous cards, because Translink cannot contact them to remind them that they are owed money.
Users can claim the cash back up to five years after the card has expired and there are still 6.45 million anonymous cards in circulation
It had been agreed that money left unclaimed would be donated to charity. Last year, however, just €80,000 was paid to a charity run by television celebrity Linda de Mol, while Translink paid itself €4.1 million for IT services. An additional €500,000 went into providing cards for refugees from Ukraine, the AD said.
Translink is owned by the public transport companies which use it.
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