Transportation

Holiday trams (Or: Tram 1 in The Hague, 2015)

This year HTM in The Hague decked out a tram for the holidays. Here is another look at the tram, showing off the lights at night (a picture in the daylight can found in this blog post). Tram 1 runs between Scheveningen and Delft.

2015 holiday tram 1 in The Hague

Last year HTM placed a piano at the Spui tram stop.

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Categories: Holidays, Transportation | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Bikes all around (Or: Advertisements for bike parking)

The Hague currently has an issue with the amount of bikes it has lying around, especially in the city center. Over the last year or so The Hague has opened a handful of new bike parking areas, including under the public library. Future work will be done at The Hague’s two train stations (Centraal station and Holland Spoor).

One of the more crowded areas in the city center is by Hema, where the amount of bikes has doubled over the last few years. The city has started putting free bicycle covers on every bike in the area for advertisement purposes:

Bikes in The Hague

It says “Put your bike in a free, guarded bike park”

Each bike also gets an advertisement on one of their handles, complete with a map of the nearby free, guarded bike areas in the neighborhood.

Bike seat cover in The Hague

The trick is that it is free for the first 24 hours – if you do not remove your bike at the end of the day you need to pay to get it back. This in theory prevents the rider from using the area as a free storage area for a few months (only in theory, as some people just never come back for the bike).

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Really? (Or: THAT is extreme weather, HTM?)

Marco and I were recently waiting for the tram. While waiting, we had a look at the information posted at the stop. They had recently added in a poster about tram and bus service during “extreme weather”.

I don’t know – would you call this extreme weather?

Extreme weather sign in The Hague

Perhaps it is the fact that I come from Chicago, where extreme weather would be, at a minimum, a foot of snow (30cm). But even then, there is a good chance of getting a foot of snow in any given year…

And here you have “extreme weather” being labeled as a dusting of snow! Insane Dutchies.

And another festive note, tram 1 decorated for the holidays:

Tram 1 decorated for Christmas, The Hague

(Pssssst. No snow to be seen!)
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Guide dogs (Or: Superheroes at the tram stop

Marco noticed this advertisement when we got off the tram a few days ago. I figured I had to take a picture for my mom, since Spiderman is played by a papillon (the breed our last two dogs were). Papillon translates to “butterfly”, referencing the butterfly shape of their ears.

Guide dogs advertisement at tram stop in The Hague

It’s actually an advertisements for guide dogs. The text translates to “You can recognize the real superhero by their outfit”. The campaign is run by KNGF Geleidehonden

The other photo we took was of the uurnet card dispenser machine – €3.50 for a 1 hour card. A bit expensive, but that’s the point – they prefer that you have an OV-chip card instead. You can find these machines on the randstad rail trams (2, 3, and 4). The other tram types require you to buy a ticket from the driver at the front of the tram.

HTM uurnet kaartapparaat buiten dienst

Of course, the joke is that the machines on the randstad rail trams are almost always out of order. As it is in this photo. It’s a bit hard to read but the main text says “Apparaat buiten dienst”, or Machine out of order, with the line translated into various languages below that.

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Trams and fireworks (Or: Luckily not at the same time)

I seem to be on tram kick lately. Let’s see, some incidents this week:

1. There’s a place in The Hague where you have a pole right next to the tram rails. That is not a problem at all for the tram – obviously the distance was factored in. However, what do Dutch like to do when they see a pole?

You guessed it. Place a bike against it. Or two actually in this case. The tram driver drives really slowly, really carefully, but manages to hit the bike. So that means she has to get up and open the door just to move the bike. (Note: some other guy on his bike riding past got off his bike just to help her move them.)

2. This afternoon a biker wanted to turn right. No problem – the tram also had a curve where it turned right as well. Except there isn’t much space at the side of the road in the curve, and you quickly run into a stack of bikes on the sidewalk. Not much room to manuever. So of course the tram passes the biker and turns right, but the biker keeps going in the turn as well, causing the tram to have to slow down to almost a complete stop. (Last I saw the guy gave up and biked into what little space there was on the sidewalk to get out of the way.)

3. But the craziest – this morning. I was in the tram heading to work and there was a garbage truck on the right side of the road. The tram was again in a turn, this time heading left. I was in the last compartment and had a great view of the garbage truck. I remember thinking “Wow, he’s really close by. But as usual there won’t be an issue.” After the garbage truck passes out of view I hear a loud screeeeeech as the garbage truck’s side mirror slashes against the body of the tram – and then a loud thud as the mirror (I presume) falls to the ground. Eep. The tram didn’t stop, either.

Another story, not quite tram-less:
Last Friday Marco, Roger and I went to the fireworks festival in Scheveningen. It happens over two weekends – Friday and Saturday and Friday and Saturday of the following weekend – and you always have two countries every night “competing” for who has the best fireworks. I left competing in quotes because I have never seen the results of the competition. The night we went was Italy and then The Netherlands.

Fireworks festival in Scheveningen

Waiting on the boulevard for the Italian fireworks to start. You can see the boats with the fireworks in the distance on the water.

At first I thought the Italian fireworks were better… until I saw the Dutch finale! Quite nice. But then we had a lot of trouble getting home. Of course it was a mad house at the tram stop. Waves upon waves of people pushing trying to get into any available tram, and we were too far down the tram stop to get into a tram (three trams went by and still nothing by us, for instance). Eventually we got into bus 23 which at best would take us to the Laan van Nieuw-Oost Indie stop. Not too bad, but still a hike to get back home. The bus was very crowded, though.

Of course, things aren’t that easy. Marco says he now knows why they put a limit on the amount of people allowed in a bus – because ours got a flat tire not too long into the ride. Eek. Luckily this was somewhere near Madurodam’s stop so we were able to hitch a ride on tram 9. There was a tiny, tiny bit of space for us to jump on in the middle of the tram. Of course some guy took offense to me wanting to hold on to the bars in front of the doors (he was standing on the steps by the doors) and so he kept squashing my hand with his butt. My hand was so red afterwards! You’d think he’d realize the presence of a foreign object and not be so rude, but oh well… I chose to keep my mouth shut, so I’m also to blame.

And right now it’s pouring. Ugh. Byebye what little summer we had. 🙂

Wow… I believe that I have angered the rain Gods with that comment. Right after typing it the sky just turned a sickly bright orange. Scary…

Categories: Scheveningen, Transportation | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Coffee at busy intersections (Or: Tram 17 by Gravenstraat)

Today Marco and I visited Hometown coffee, a cafe near the Buitenhof. Here in The Hague we have “koopavond” (shopping night) on Thursday nights. That means that most stores stay open until 8 or 9pm instead of closing at 5 or 6pm. I must admit that does make me miss the US… even the main library branch closes at 8pm! Sheesh.

Anyway, this time I had a blended ice coffee, mocha flavor, and we split a small piece of carrot cake. And then I noticed something for the millionth time — the insane thing about this area is that tram 17 rides through the area. This first photo (below) looks deceivingly quiet but it shows the worst place for the tram. It has to bank left at the corner but there is a not a lot of room for pedestrians there due to the stacked up bikes right up to the edge of the tram line (not pictured in the photo). So a lot of people walk along the tram lines and thus the tram crawls along at a very… slow… rate… 🙂

Tram 17 by Gravenstraat

photo taken from Google Images – it is not mine

And here’s a bonus of tram 17 just before that area, by the Sting, a clothing store:

Tram 17 by The Sting

another random photo from Google Images

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Now that’s an interesting delay (Or: Blocking the trams)

A few days ago I was idly checking htm.nl, the bus/tram operator in The Hague, when I noticed that tram 1 had a rather lengthy delay. The reason?

A “wrongly parked car”.

tram delay for wrongly parked car

Wow. I only wish I had a photo of that one. Granted, some places don’t have much room to park here in The Hague – but you can always drive a bit further and find another place. I just keep envisioning a drunk person parking directly over the tracks (though it is more likely that it was just an inch or two too close).

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New bus/tram stops (Or: Look up)

The Hague is slowly but surely getting new bus and tram shelters!

Here is a photo of one of the old tram stops being removed (while buses, trams and traffic in general ride past just a few feet away!). You can see the old stop being moved in the air, including the stone base underneath.

Old tram/bus stop being removed in The Hague

 

Here is a look at the new design being used (link).

But when you find yourself at one of the new designs, make sure you look up at the roof, as the design is uniquely The Hague:

Ceiling above new bus/tram stop in The Hague

The symbol of The Hague is the ooievaar (stork). Very pretty!

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“I’m sorry”s (Or: A bundle of tulips)

If Monday’s journey includes a stop to Utrecht Central, you might just be presented with a bundle of tulips by an NS worker (NS being the main train company in the Netherlands). The official reason for this is to promote “random acts of kindness”

image

Of course, the more cynical train riders would say that the timing is a bit suspicious as NS had a lot of sensor issues earlier in the week at Utrecht Central. This train station is more or less in the middle of the country and the main transfer point for trains. The delay due to the sensors completely halted traffic for a few hours, but the effects were felt far into evening rush hour. Delays were easily 90 minutes to 2 hours.

In continuing with the random acts of kindness theme, the NS recommend that if you receive a bundle of tulips that you pass it on to someone else to brighten their day. The article says that this isn’t the first time that they passed out tulips to train passengers, so perhaps it is just a a nice gesture after all…

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Pink traffic islands (Or: A touch of something unexpected)

Today while I was browsing dutchnews.nl (an English speaking news site), I read about a mistake which ended up bringing good attention to a Dutch town called Wijchen — the town council ordered more paint for the traffic islands but mistakenly used the wrong color code on the order form.

The result? Pink traffic islands.

pink road dividers Wijchen Netherlands

When I first read the article, they said the mistake would be corrected next week as it might otherwise might be a distraction. However, due to the public liking the accidental color choice, the news article was updated to state that the color will stay.

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