Public transport card

Smart sustainable transport

One public transport card for the Netherlands

Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

In the Netherlands, the public transport (OV) chip card has gradually replaced paper tickets, which until then had been the conventional national method. By mid-2009, an additional eight areas were scheduled to transition to OV chip cards, with the final eight areas scheduled to transition in 2010. Before September 2008, the development and roll-out had a local focus. Our role in this process (from September 2008 to October 2010) was to manage the implementation and facilitate the sharing of knowledge among the parties involved on a national basis. This extended to all areas using the OV chip card and those that will be using it card in the future. The project focused on technique, distribution (points of sale) and pricing.


The challenge

The challenge was to replace paper tickets with the OC chip card and implement a system so that all 16 municipal areas would have transitioned to the new cards within the set timeframe of two years. The OV chip card project was initially launched in two major cities.

In 2012, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment asked Twynstra to supervise and assist on behalf of the national government in the pricing and ticketing discussions with both public parties and private operators.


The OV chip card

The OV chip card (a smartcard concept) is an easy method of electronic payment, allowing customers to access the entire system of public transport (train, tram, metro, bus) and travel anywhere within the Netherlands. The OV chip card satisfies several goals:

  • It enables quicker payment for transport companies
  • It provides reliable information on traffic behaviour for future infrastructure investments.

The OV chip card technology is provided by a consortium of three companies and hosted by the service provider, Trans Link Systems. All public transport companies have a client relationship with the service provider, who certifies machines operating in transport vehicles and platforms. The technology provides the interface between the OV chip cards and information systems used by the public transport companies, and facilitates the payment system.


Our consultants were engaged to provide project management and knowledge sharing across the consortium:

  • Stakeholder analysis and management: from the project initiation phase, we developed a joint view and collaborative approach in cooperation with all parties. Due to the number and range of the parties involved, stakeholder management proved to be a lengthy and critical process
  • Risk management: a reference model was developed on the basis of a detailed analysis for each stage of the implementation process. This consisted of methods used, technical developments, implementation issues, and assessed risks and recommendations for control. The resulting reference model was a dynamic one, in which launch areas benefitted from the best practice data available
  • Managing the project to appropriate standards: the launch of the OV chip card was managed at a national level, with key controls for planning, quality criteria and information. We delivered phased and controlled national rollout plans supported by national risk management
  • Managing change: to achieve project buy-in from all the decentralised authorities, we organised learn-and-share meetings and one-day summits on technique, distribution and pricing in which both project and line managers participated.