13 November 2019 • HOP, by Melanie Zierse
Around 58,000 students are still owed a refund for public transportation
Tens of thousands of students who wrongfully paid for their ride on a bus, tram or metro this summer, didn’t claim their refund from a ticket machine. It concerns small amounts of money, but the public transportation ombudsman would nevertheless like to call attention to the issue.
After a long summer, students were once again allowed to travel for free on their weekly transportation card starting on August 16. But those who didn’t have any credit on their card were unable to check in to a number of transportation companies. Students who did put money on their public transportation cards had to pay the regular fee.
It turned out that the annual calendar provided by Regisseur Studenten Reisrecht (RSR) to the transportation companies contained a mistake. Students who used the trains didn’t experience any problems, as the NS uses its own calendar. The RSR notified students via social media on the same day that they could get a refund at a ticket machine.
Since then only 21 percent of almost 73,000 students have taken the effort to stop by a ticket machine, as reported by the public transportation ombudsman in its quarterly report. He wonders if the organisations involved have really made an effort to notify all students. He feels that they should make more of an effort to pay everyone back.
RSR, who was responsible for the error and the subsequent communication with students, doesn’t know how it could have done any better. “We made it as convenient as possible for students. They don’t have to claim this amount, it’s already waiting for them. All they need to do is stop by a ticket machine,” according to the spokesperson.
They have sent out numerous messages about this via social media and in the press. It’s not possible to contact all students individually because RSR doesn’t have access to all their phone numbers or email addresses.
The biggest problem seems to be the students’ lack of willingness to stop by a ticket machine. “In many cases it involves only a small amount, around 98 cents. Students don’t think it’s worth the effort. That doesn’t apply only to students though. We often see that these types of campaigns yield very little response.”
RSR is monitoring if more refund requests will be submitted by the end of this week. “It would be a waste if the money just sits there. We can’t use it either. The money belongs to the students and should be returned to them.” The money will remain available until the card expires.