Rocky start for Dutch test with smartphone public transit payments

An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia)
An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia). (An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia))

The Netherlands' experiment with letting customers pay for public transit with their smartphones, instead of the public transit card, did not have a great start. Since it launched in May only 4,702 people used the 'OV chip mobiel' app, and used it an average of five or less times, AD reports.

Arco Groothedde, director of public transit card maker Translink, called it a "massive disappointment" on Friday. He described the first days of the smartphone public transit card as "worthless". 

Users immediately faced technical problems when signing up for the smartphone cards. Doing so required many different steps, and the service was even canceled completely for KPN customers. The app will be relaunched for KPM customers in the future, though when this will happen is not yet clear.

A Translink spokesperson did not want to use the word 'flop' on Friday, but did acknowledge that the app was launched too quickly, according to ANP. "We should've called it a beta version that is still under development. For us it became 'learning by doing'. But the people who traveled with it are very enthusiastic."