Friday, November 28, 2003

Chipcard for public transport

Yesterdays and todays newspaper reported on the cost-benefit picture of the proximity IC-card to be introduced in 2004 for use in public transport in the Netherlands. Karla Peys, the Minister of Transport informed parliament by means of:

- this letter,

- this research report on cost/benefits.

What is quite noteworthy is that Minister Karla Peys used to be the member of Euro-parlement claiming free cross-border credit-transfers from banks. Now she writes, in a letter to the Consumer Union, that is undoable to provide the public transport chipcard for free. She also explained this position by referring to the bank practice (charging for cards) as a benchmark.

Interestingly, the state will sponsor the new payment instrument with an amount of 160 million euro. There has been no discussion in parliament on the question if this support is in line with the EU-guidelines for state-support to private enterprises. Also, the actual calculations on costs and benefits (which took a while to be finalised) weren't part of a major discussion.

Despite these discussions, it appears that the position of the public transport sector in the social debate on payments is still underestimated. With 1,5 to 2 billion transactions per year, the public transport e-money system will be a major payment issuer in the Netherlands; yet, no mention is made of participation of representatives of Trans Link Systems in the Social Platform on Payment Systems. So I would suggest they'd be invited (either as themselves or as a delegate of the representative organisations for e-money issuers).