What Happened To The Dutch Strippenkaart


Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of the humble Dutch strippenkaart (strip card) as it passes on into the realms of nostalgia to be replaced with the new electronic OV-chipkaart (public-transport chip card) system. Many of you who have gathered here to pay your respects will remember our friend the strippenkaart as a simple means of exchanging money for transportation on Dutch trams, buses and metros. I would like to share some of my memories of it with you too.

I first encountered the strippenkaart in the summer of 2001 when I arrived in Holland as a young and confused expat. I had only been in the country for two hours when I first tried to board a tram and buy a ticket. It was then that I was presented with my first strippenkaart. It was only a small strippenkaart, barely more than a strip, just enough to travel one zone but I was instantly intrigued by this system of transportation payment. It was so new and fresh too me. I think it was something in the way the driver smiled at me and stamp my ticket that reminded me of a simpler happier time, when the teacher would stamp my work with a little star to show that I had done well. From that moment on the strippenkaart had a special place in my heart.

Later, I discovered the larger strippenkaart, the kind with 16 strips that could be used for traveling through even more zones whenever I wanted. At the same time I also discovered the large yellow self stamping machines. At first it was a relationship of some confusion as I tried to work out how many strips I was supposed to stamp for the amount of zones I wanted to travel. However, I eventually came to understand the system (after a lot of very cheap travel and one encounter with a tram ticket inspector).

I will always remember the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I had filled a strippenkaart up with stamps, my desire to shout ‘bingo’ upon doing so and collect a prize from the driver for getting a full house.

I will also remember listening fondly to the *klunk, ding* of the older stamping machines as they stamped the strippenkaart of early morning travelers with the date and time, the sound of which always making me think of a drunk north pole elf with a peg leg stumbling across a wooden floor.

*Klunk, ding, klunk, ding, klunk, ding*

Yes. I will always remember the good times… and so should you my friends.

It is also important that we do not hold any feelings of hostility towards the new OV-chipkaart system. It might feel like it has taken our beloved strippenkaart from us and now fills our ears every single day with the, “don’t forget to check in and check out with your public transport chip card,” announcement at almost every single stop in both Dutch and English without even saying a simple please or thank you. I to hear that announcement so often on a daily bases that I have started to hear it in my dreams, over and over and over again…


What I mean to say is that despite all of that it is important to remember that the OV-chipkaart did not ask for the responsibility of filling such large shoes to be thrust upon it. We must give it time. After all it will be there to confuse the next generation of expats on their first day in Holland as the strippenkaart did with me.

Yes, we will morn but we must also celebrate and remember. I know I will…. Farewell my friend, strippenkaart… You will be missed.

22 responses to “What Happened To The Dutch Strippenkaart”

  1. mub says:

    They haven’t started using the OV card down here yet, though the new buses all have the machines. I am not convinced that this is actually going to make things simpler. I was reading on dutchnews.nl (which admittedly is a little dodgy sometimes) that people in Rotterdam had essentially paid over 40 million extra in transit fees because of non-working cards or forgetting to check out!!

  2. Invader Stu says:

    It would not surprise me if that is the case. If I remember to check out my travel is only 0.95 cents but if I forget it’s over 4.00 euros… I’m very forgetful.

  3. Anneke says:

    *sob sob* I am going to miss the strippenkaart! I read in the Volkskrant (pretty reliable I’d say) that you have to wait three minutes after checking out before you can check in again. So if you need to catch a bus within those three minutes tough luck, or in my case a train not run by NS but syntus. I’d have to chack out, wait three minutes and check in again. Except I’ll be missing my train in those three minutes. *sigh* So I’m mourning our loss… :D

  4. Wezz6400 says:

    Those three minutes sound like nonsense to me. I regularly check out and back in again within 30 seconds at the Beurs metro station in Rotterdam, when exchanging between the Erasmus and Caland line, so far with no problems whatsoever.

    I don’t really like the OV-chipcard as it’s total crap from a technological point of view, and a huge hit on our privacy. I like the idea of an electronic OV-card, I just think the one as it is introduced right now is total crap. Then again, most IT projects at the government fail miserably, it’s not a big suprise this one does as well…

  5. thamarai says:

    Sigh, the strippen card itself was a little complicated for me in the beginning and am still not so sure about it. And the system already changed!

  6. Invader Stu says:

    Anneke & Wezz6400 – I don’t know if that is the case with the three minute thing either way but I do know someone who checked in on a tram and forgot to check out. So to stop themselves having to pay 4 euros they waited till another tram came along and tried to check out on that one. Instead it welcomed them to a new journey and they lost another 4 euros (8 euros in total).

    thamarai – Ah… you get the double whammy of confusion then. I had that with the Guilder. I’d just gotten use to it and then the Euro was introduced.

  7. VallyP says:

    Oh Stu, you make me feel quite teary for the old strippenkaart. At least there was no danger of paying more than double the amount…not unless you got your strips seriously mixed up or were seeing double cos you’d had too much to drink..lol

    I’ve had several mishaps with this new card. Remembering to check in is fine, but I’m one of those who regularly forgets to check out on the trams. Its’ cost me a fortune so far…and I also tried what your friend did and got a double dose of my own mistake…hate the things! On the metro it’s okay because you can’t get out without checking out, but the trams and buses are a disaster for day dreamers like me!

  8. Invader Stu says:

    I alway sit on the tram with my card in my hand in the hope that I will not forget but that does not always work. I’m also bound to get on with out any credit on my card one of these days.

  9. Anneke says:

    @Wezz6400 that’s a relief to hear, though I still don’t like the chipcards, I assume most of you have heard about the students who hacked into the system and could not only travel for free but also access the data of other travellers?

  10. Michelle in NZ says:

    Your new card lacks the charm of the extra step ours has. Should we have less than $10.00 left then the machine barks out, super-loud for all on the bus to hear, “CARD VALUE LOW” and then again when we get off!

  11. Isabella says:

    Thanks for sharing this :-)
    One thing I will be thankful about with the demise of the strippenkaart is how difficult it’s been for me to pronounce. When purchasing one, I always feel I am asking for a card for stripping purposes. I try my best to not say ‘stripping’-kaart.

  12. Marc says:

    Gone are the days when the self-stamping machines ran out of ink and you could travel on the same strips multiple times.

    Alas, I have already been ripped off catching a train from Amsterdam Sloterdijk to Amsterdam Amstel. Because the metro line and train line use the same platform at Amstel I needed to pass through electronic gates by way of an OV-kaart. Being in possession of a valid train ticket did not open the gates so I had to use my OV to get out. Given I hadn’t checked in, I was charged four euros! That is on top of the cost of the train ticket!

  13. Invader Stu says:

    Anneke – That’s a new one to me but I’m not surprised.

    Michelle in NZ – Ah… there is nothing like public embarrassment on public transport…. It makes it extra public.

    Isabella – I believe strip cards can be used in the red light district.

    Marc – I think we can all agree that the new system sucks.

  14. Gez says:

    Stu! Welcome back to the land of posting! (Only just found out you were posting again!)

    OK, in answer you a q in your comments from the 2nd Lift incedent – no, it wasn’t Croyden College (It was in fact, Exeter College).

    Language slip-ups:
    Can’t say I’ve done anything quite as embarassing as ‘doing someone other than my g/f’, but when we’ve been doing some practising (With a Dutch Bert + Ernie book!), I sometimes mix Dutch and English, so we get things like “Ernie’s standing on the trap!” as opposed to the “stairs” he should be standing on…
    And at some point, I’m going to go to the bioscope (English bio), on the fietspath…

    Oh, and as for you being sliced open, sorry to say but your hair works against you too. My mother (former nurse) said red-heads ALWAYS bled worse than anyone else. Mebbe blunted safety knives around the place are warranted?

    Again, good to see you back :)


  15. Gez says:


    I love the OV Chipcard! Don’t need to take it out your wallet to check in/out. Or your wallet out your jacket for that matter!

  16. Invader Stu says:

    Welcome back Gez

    I think we red heads get the short end of the stick. We burn easy and bleed easy… maybe evolution is trying to tell us something :p

    I’ve not tried using the OV-card still inside my wallet. You can bet I’m going to give it a go now.

  17. Lily says:

    The whole not needing to take it out of your wallet thing sounds like it works like the Oyster card.

    I don’t know anything about the OV-kaart. I see the machines at the train station but nobody has mentioned that I need to get one and our buses don’t have the machines. I guess I should investigate it more.

  18. Dave Hampton says:

    I felt kile I’d arrived when I mastered strippenkart usage: it only took two years to work up the courage to find out how to get a card, how to fold it, where to fold it, when to punch it. There isn’t a guidebook in the world that tells you how to do this ritual… rdtcaep..

  19. Invader Stu says:

    Lily – I’m not sure if every where in Holland is using them yet. At least it means that for now the strippenkaart survives on in some part of Holland.

    Dave – I think they should give you a hand book when you step off the plane that details all the strange little things like this in Holland.

  20. Anita says:

    I do not take the metro so… as long as I can I will be using the strippenkaart at buses & trams. I like to get stamps. Your trips cost more with the OVcard and it completely alienates you from the price of things. I am going to buy morestrippenkaarten now by the way !

  21. Dragonlady says:

    How do tourist get on? Do we have to buy a card. At least it will save us buying things in shops that we don’t need just to get enough change for a ticket machine at the train station.

  22. Invader Stu says:

    Anita – It’s a good idea to stock up on them. They could be worth alot in the future.

    Dragonlady – It’s the same as before for tourists. You still pay on the tram but instead of getting a small strippenkaart you get another kind of card. Trains have not changed at all yet.

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