Train platform at Utrecht Central Station (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Sebastiaan ter Burg) - Credit: Train platform at Utrecht Central Station (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Sebastiaan ter Burg)
Friday, August 14, 2015 - 11:59
Programmer finds NS loophole and offers cheap train tickets
Romanian programmer Alexandru Bondor has discovered a cheaper way to travel by NS trains. He created the website grouptickets.nl where train travelers can make use of the NS group ticket discount, without actually knowing each other, NU reports. The Computer Science students came up with the idea and created the site while he was temporarily living in Zwolle for an exchange program with Windesheim. He had to pay 29.80 euros for a trip to visit his girlfriend in Utrecht. "Too much", he told NU, so he made a plan. NS offers a group ticket for between 4 and 10 people traveling to the same destination. The first four people pay a total of 55 euros, and every additional person pays 2.50 euros. This means that 10 people can travel for a total of 70 euros - 7 euros per person. Bondor noticed that the only requirement for the group ticket is that all travelers have the same destination - the group does not have to travel from the same starting point. And thus grouptickets.nl was born. Travelers register on the site, choose a destination and joins an online group traveling to the same destination. Once the group is full - 10 people - one person purchases the group ticket and sends the tickets to the other nine people in the group, once they have sent him proof that they paid their 7 euros over to him. The travelers then complete their details and starting point themselves. The site went live on may 29th. So far more than 40 thousand travelers are registered on the site. Bondor, who is now back in Romania and managing the site from there, does not feel that he is doing anything illegal. "The NS offers the discount to travelers who want to travel together." he said to NU. "The conductor can't control whether people know each other. In addition, the only condition NS has is that you have the same destination." A spokesperson for NS told the newspaper that they are aware of the site and are happy with the attention the group ticket is getting. "We have seen the Facebook page, which shows that the product is a success", the spokesperson said. According to him, the conditions state that the intention is not that a third party creates a group to travel together. NS will discuss this with Bondor. The railway company sees opportunities in the sudden focus on the group ticket. "Perhaps we can strengthen each other and provide opportunities."