The advent of the OV-chipkaart
After delays due to security issues, it will be possible to travel with the new OV-chipkaart in more and more places during 2009 till, eventually, all services should be using this smart-card system.
The cards are issued anonymously or for a named individual. You buy a pass (or ’load‘ it from a bank account at a vending machine or ticket office) and swipe the ticket upon entering and leaving the bus, metro or tram. Don't forget to check out or you'll be charged the entire boarding rate of EUR 4! Otherwise, you pay for the distance travelled, unlike the current zonal system, the paper strippenkart.
With a strippenkart, a journey costs EUR 1.60 for one zone (two strips) or less for kids and pensioners or if you buy multiple strips (15 or 45). Your stamped card is valid for an hour, regardless of transfers between, say, metros and trams. This is also true for the OV-chipkaart, though you do need to check in and out with each transfer.
If your journey includes one or more transfers and one of the public transport companies is not yet ready for the OV-chipkaart, paying by OV-chipkaart means you would pay the boarding rate twice. In this case, it is cheaper to use strippenkaart for the the entire journey.
Also, whereas you may stamp for more than one person on a single strippenkaart, this is not possible with the OV-chipkaart.
The OV-chipkaart can be used where the pink logo is displayed. Currently, this is only in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
In most regions, season tickets and strippenkaart will continue to be valid as long as the launch of the OV-chipkaart throughout the Netherlands has not been completed. Afterwards, travel tickets other than the OV-chipkaart will gradually be cancelled. This will be announced in time, in the media and by the public transport companies.
See www.ov-chipkaart.nl for more information (in English, as well as Dutch).