Some 20,000 travelers abuse NS group tickets each month: report
NS's group return tickets were intended to encourage families and football teams to take the train to their destination instead of a car, but instead the tickets became easy fraud for bargain hunters and brokers, AD reports. NS estimates that between 15 thousand and 20 thousand travelers use these group tickets fraudulently each month, according to the newspaper.
Instead of real groups traveling together, individuals look each other up on social media or through intermediaries to buy a group ticket together, saving them a ton of money. For example, a group ticket for 10 people in off-peak hours costs 7 euros per person, according to AD. That saves you 19.30 euros on the full rate and 8.80 euros with the 40 percent discount. Travelers on group tickets are not required to sit together, making it hard to check up on.
NS knows about the problem, and tightened the rules in April to prevent this fraudulent use of group tickets. Now travelers can only buy group tickets if their departure and destination stations are the same. Before, travelers only had to get off at the same station. This measure helped, but only a little. "The suspected abuse is 15 percent less", NS spokesperson Hessel Koster said to the newspaper. The measure decreased the fraud from 167 thousand euros per month to 142 thousand euros per month. That's about 15 thousand to 20 thousand fraudulent travelers each month.
The rail company is still working on addressing the problem - hundreds of group tickets were declared invalid and dozens of intermediaries have been caught. According to the newspaper, NS is working on "structural changes" to catch these fraudulent travelers. What exactly those changes are, is unclear.