On Thursday Marco and I went for a long walk. It was a great day to do so – a day off and temperatures around 26C / 79F. It was a bit weird to be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but I loved it.
On the way back we found ourselves at the “back” of the bus platform at The Hague Centraal train station. I honestly didn’t even know there was a path back there. You learn something new every day!
The bus platform was remodeled last year so that the bus lanes were more easily accessible. Previously if you wanted the last bus you needed to cross every bus lane to get to it. Now if you want the last bus you only need to walk to the end of the pedestrian area and then cross over to your desired bus.
I will happily tag this post as “Spring” because the weather was just that good. Much better than the slightly grey, will it rain or won’t it sort of day that we had today.
The national train service NS has added additional measures by train stations in anticipation of the schedule returning to normal on 2 June. The delay of one day is because Monday, 1 June is a holiday here in The Netherlands.
Note: the schedule is returning to normal due to the expected increase of travelers, however the government still requests that people avoid public transportation when possible and instead take the car, bike or walk to their destination.
The latest measure related to the coronavirus situation is the use of one-way entrances and exits. As you can see in the photo above, you can only use every other door, depending on what side you’re on. There’s a lot of doors at the Centraal station, about 10 on each side. At least most of them are working these days… In the beginning at least half were defective. I wish I was joking!
Another common complaint after the station was remodeled was that it was really hard to see what was a door and what was a glass wall. I think most people are used to it these days although it still requires you to pay attention a little bit.
There’s also notes spray painted in the ground inside, although that’s been around since the beginning of the crisis, in some form or another. From the upper left it says ‘vermijd drukte’ (avoid busy areas, the rule that recently replaced the stay home as much as possible rule, ‘houd afstand’ (keep your distance), ‘was vaker je handen’ (wash your hands more often). In the middle is the main measure about keeping 1.5 meters distance from others, and at the bottom ‘voorkom €400 boete’ (avoid a €400 fine).
The NS train company have also recently added a ban of taking your bike with you in the train unless you have a special bike for medical purposes. They also temporarily removed the ‘Samenreiskorting’, a 40% discount when you travel with the train outside of peak hours with another person; this person must have either a season pass or a student product for you to qualify for the discount. Here is more information in English.
From 1 June you are required to wear a face mask in all public transportation. I’ve also seen information that only seats by the train window will be available for use, although this page (in Dutch) doesn’t say that directly. It does mention that you should only sit where green stickers are placed, however.
HTM, The Hague’s bus and tram service, is also working on new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
This is also by The Hague Centraal station. As you can see, when you leave the tram you are required to exit to the right and walk along the path noted with arrows. Travellers who are waiting for the tram need to wait in the spots marked with blue or red stickers behind the line. The blue stickers show two feet and the red stickers have a QR code. Once everyone has exited the tram they will be allowed to move forward and enter the tram themselves. As The Hague Centraal is a rather busy area, there are workers present if you have questions (you can just see a man standing there in the upper left of the photo).
Back in mid-March HTM implemented a measure asking that travelers not use the button to open or close tram doors or to use the stop button to signal to the driver that they want to get off at the next stop. For the foreseeable future buses and trams will be stopping at every stop and opening every door so that travellers do not have to touch anything extra during the journey. As you can see above, there’s a sign on the tram door requesting that you do not press any buttons as it is no longer required.
It will definitely be interesting to see what the first week of June is like. At the same time that public transportation will be back to a normal schedule, restaurants will be re-opening with limited capacity as well.
I’m a big fan of public transportation and love reading everything about HTM trams, so I just had to share the photo I made about the check-in/check-out machine in one of the local trams:
For years these machines display gibberish about 50% of the time. The machine should read IN/UIT- CHECKEN at this moment, which it… mostly… does. But about 15 seconds prior ‘CHECKEN’ was actually ‘SLURKEN’. I’m not sure why exactly, but one letter randomly changes here and there and random symbols appear on the sides.
Maybe it’s all just a big puzzle we are supposed to figure out.
Public service announcement: please note the very awesome and tasty oliebollenkraam on the Spuiplein (which has its own Facebook page!) looks to have relocated to the Grote Markt this year:
This is because of all the construction at the Spuiplein (article in Dutch, with photo), which seems to take over more and more space every week.
The Facebook page for the oliebollen stand says it should open on November 2nd. This is a very popular place to buy oliebollen. Oliebollen (literally “oil balls”) are sort of like donut balls, without any holes. They are typically served with raisins inside, unless you are a heretic like me that eats them plain. Here’s a look at how long the line gets on New Year’s Eve, back in 2014. This stand is popular! Or check out this 1 minute video.
And for the public transportation aficionados reading this (haha), the bus driving past is the old model – it is bus 61, which is a temporary line to take over tram 1 at least through the end of the year. They are busy doing work on the Scheveningseweg.
The OV-chipkaart (OV=openbaar vervoer=public transportation, chipkaart=chip card) is used throughout the Netherlands as a means for paying for a public transportation journey, be it train, tram, bus…
The card is used to check in and check out by holding the card against a reader as the traveler enters and exits the vehicle. Useful, but it can cause delays at some of the more crowded stops. When I travelled to Dublin I was intrigued by having the check-in and check-out machines at each of the stops rather than inside of the vehicle – it saves some boarding time that way, although the costs are higher for having machines at every stop.
The OV-chipkaarts expire after 5 years. Ironically, all of this household’s OV chipkaarts (5 in total) expired within a few months of each other. But this gave me the opportunity to visit the HTM-service desk at The Hague Centraal, which I hadn’t yet had an excuse to do. And of course I dragged Marco along to experience the fun.
Information booklet for traveling with an OV-chipkaart, with information in Dutch, English and German. Handy for the tourists!
It was around 16:30 on a workday, and already fairly busy inside the service area. The area is serviced both by HTM as well as by NS, the national train company. We didn’t have to wait too long to get helped. Each card costs €7.50, before adding any funds on it. Luckily the HTM worker mentioned that the option to use the card to travel by train (NS) needed to be added manually, otherwise we would have been in for a surprise!
In this case we asked for anonymous cards (the blue variety) which can be used by anyone. There’s a few minor differences between those and personalized cards (yellow variety) – the main difference being that personalized cards can be automatically re-filled when they hit a minimum amount, for instance. But generally anonymous cards work fine.
Marco and I also both got information booklets on traveling with an OV-chipkaart, as you can see above. Not strictly required, but always fun to read (for me!).
Back in March 2015 The Hague replaced the shelters at bus and tram stops. The best part of the new design in my opinion was the much prettier glass on the sides and top. The design also included new benches which have since become an issue for curious kids. Have a look and see if you can guess what the issue is:
Yep. The holes (which are used to drain off rainwater) are just the right size for a curious kid to stick their finger in. It took around a year (August 2016) for the first curious kid to get a few fingers stuck in the bench but after that the incidents just kept coming this year. With the first child they decided to administer anesthesia on the spot and cut out the bench around the finger, but since then they have removed an entire section of the bench and transported the child to the hospital (with part of the bench still around his finger) to remove it there.
Last month it was decided that the benches would be replaced using the advertising money the shelter generates, but it was still at a cost of more than half a million. The benches now use slits rather than holes to let the rainwater escape. The replacement of the benches began on May 2nd and will take until mid-July. And guess what happened on May 2nd? Yep, another kid got his fingers caught!
Speaking of trams, a friend and I went to the remise or depot in Scheveningen to see (one of the places) where the trams are stored overnight. This is also where the workers start and end their shifts.
Tram remise in Scheveningen
The tram above is being driven backwards into the remise. There’s a small grey box at the back of these older trams which tram drivers can use to “back the tram in”. That way they are facing the right direction when they need to leave in the morning. It’s only needed for the older types – the two types that have come since then are made to be driven from either direction during normal operation.
Yesterday HTM had a promotion to ride free with tram 11 so that you could experience the new Avenio trams. So far tram 2, 11, and 17 ride with the new model. 11 has had the new model for a while, but considering the route is from Station Holland Spoor to the beach (stop Strandweg), perhaps they were waiting for better weather. And we definitely had awesome weather!
Tram 11 coming around the corner (actually at the beach, so this photo was taken on the way back):
A promotional cover over the machine you normally use to check in and out. It says ‘Travel today for free’.
(Public service announcements, or PSAs. Basically messages that are freely distributed to the public because they are in their best interest.)
Trams rule! I never realized this while growing up in the US because there wasn’t much public transportation around. Or when there was, it was just buses, and I am not as big a fan of those.
Here’s the birthday card Roger made for me. Front cover – a look at the Avenio trams, the newest model. Some of the tram lines have started to use them (2 and 11) with 1, 9 and 17 next. You can just make out the top of the tram where he edited the sign to say “Niki’s birthday”.
Inside you can see a map of The Hague (at the very bottom), and then a tram service schedule on the left side, with a picture of an older, yellow tram sign you would find at a stop on the right. Roger even added a picture of gourmetten in the middle since that’s what we ate on my birthday. Finally, in the middle you have a look at the tram lines throughout The Hague.
And a look at the two books that I currently have checked out from the library:
The larger book is a photographic history of trams in The Hague since 1945 (until 2011). The smaller one is a non-fiction book written by a journalist who spent a year working as a tram conductor in Amsterdam.
I love trams. No interest whatsoever in driving them, but I love reading the latest news. Try htmfoto.net or HaagsOVforum.nl. The first one includes way more than just tram stuff, or even HTM stuff. There’s a lot of old pictures of the city to lose yourself in.
In June of this year, The Hague will begin a hop-on, hop-off tram service aimed at tourists (Article: English | Dutch).
From the English article: “The Tourist Tram, in historical cream with a green trim, is launching in June. The route connects the historic city center, the planned museum district around Lange Voorhout, the Vredespaleis and the Kurhaus together. It will also travel through the international zone, the Gemeentemuseum and Omniversum and go all the way Scheveningen.”
Tickets will cost 14 euros, or 18 euros per day, while kids under 12 can ride for 5 euros for two days. I thought that was a bit pricey considering a day ticket for HTM (The Hague’s bus and tram service) costs 6 and a half euros per day, but it looks like this tourist tram includes an audio tour which is in several different languages, including Haags (The Hague’s dialect). The route also links together a lot of tourist hot spots, so you only have to board one tram and you don’t have to research all of the routes. That could be a big plus for tourists.
The tourist tram that will start running in June (photo: Maurice Haak / Den Haag)
The tram is mainly intended for the summer months, traveling every half hour between 09.30 and 17.30. After the summer, it will only be in service on weekends or holidays. Hopefully it is a good enough investment that they can expand service a bit!
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.