The title of a rather cheesy song by a Swedish girl called Emilia that was a big hit somewhere in the late nineties. More than ten years down the line it still pops up in my head every now and again. In spite of being a big girl these days, it still is a big, big world too. Which I find hugely fascinating yet intimidating at occassions...
Saturday, 16 April 2011
How do you get to realize you're not as young as you used to be? Because you suddenly come to notice the world has somehow changed and you didn't even see it till it's a fact!
Yesterday I used up my last Strippenkaart. Admitted, we've been using chip cards in Dutch public transport for a while now. But I hadn't worn my black leather coat for some years and found one in its pocket. And since I'm Dutch after all, I wanted to use it up.
Rotterdam was first at abandoning the Strippenkaart. In 2008 it was impossible to use the subway without a chip card, the then new system. At the time, I still lived in Egypt and was flabbergasted. How am I to use the metro? Do I want to purchase a piece of plastic I am not going to use for another year? What, I HAVE to? I was literally a stranger in my "own" country!
That hurt more than the fact that those introductions of a new system also impose a price increase on the consumer. I did the math! The last Strippencards (the ones with 15 strips) are 7,70 euro, which brings me to a fee of a bit over a euro traveling within one zone. The price system for the tram is not as transparent, but the ride from my home to the train station usually costs me 1,20 euro. Provided I get in and do not change on my way. Whereas I could use my Strippenkaart for a ride within a zone for a specific amount of time(1 hour), with the chip card I have to check out before leaving the vehicle and checking in again after changing. All over, that means a considerable price difference.
Also, and that is what is the killer for most people, you have to REMEMBER to check out. A friendly mechanic voice will kindly remember you to do so but we all know what we're like after a long day of hard labour: absent minded. Unfortunately absent mindedness is expensive. If you forget to check out your card, the automatical fee for a trip is four euro. Ouch! Talk about hurt.
But let's go back a while. When I was a little toddler going shopping with my gran, she bought tickets from the bus driver. She payed him with cash and no one thought anything of it! She didn't even have to pay a special price (strippenkaarten bought from the driver are considerably more expensive). I was barely allowed to travel by myself, when my mom gave me my first strippenkaart. She always grumbled when I forgot to empty my pockets before chucking my trousers in the laundry. No more of that either. Plastic cards are kept in wallets these days. Bye bye strippenkaart!