drapeauOV-Fiets - Holland

OV-Fiets are rental bikes which have been available since 2002 in all of Holland’s major railway stations for a flat price of 2.8€ (maximum duration 20 hours). The benefit is twofold: on the one hand, commuters can ride to their jobs from the arrival station; on the other hand, pass-holding OV-Fiets customers can use these rental bikes in most railway stations in Holland, for the system is the same everywhere.

Objectives :
The objective of OV-Fiets rental bikes is to increase the number of customers of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS – Railway operator), without losing any money, by expanding the area which the customer can access from the arrival station. The goal is to have a simple and attractive system, in order to reach 1 million rentals yearly in 2011 with 200 stations throughout the country.

Methods :

OV-Fiets bike park

Description of the offer :

OV-Fiets are basic city bikes rented for 2,85€ a day (from 0 to 20 hours). They are generally found in or close to railway stations, often inside the bike parks that are common in the Netherlands. The latter may or may not be managed by the NS railway company. (Please note that NS-Fiets is a segment of the company that manages guarded bike parks, whereas OV-Fiets is a fully-owned subsidiary of NS). In order to rent a bike, the user must first subscribe to the service on the Internet or at the counter, for a cost of 10 euros a year. Payment is then automated by means of the bar code found on the pass.

Automatic payment system using a pass.

Organisation :




NGO Stitching OV-Fiets

Railway operator (NS, Nederlandse Spoorwegen), subsidiary OV-Fiets.
+ NPC Consultancy since 2008.

Railway operator (NS), subsidiary  OV-Fiets (Fiets = bikes).
+ staff of bike parks

The system was invented by a small non-profit association by the name of Stitching OV-Fiets. OV-Fiets (Fiets means bike in Dutch) has been a subsidiary of NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen), the national railways, since 1st January 2008. This is the best way of guaranteeing a single system throughout the territory (see the example of self-service bikes in France and their incompatibility).

In general, OV-Fiets are placed in the bike parks run by NS-Fiets, a branch of the NS that takes care of part of the existing bike parks. This allows a reduction in costs and renders the OV-Fiets location easy to find and readily accessible. There are also some OV-Fiets points in other bike parks or more isolated ones (in cities, at the arrival dock of a ferry, etc.), as well as automated systems (individual booths, or underground automatic parking facilities – « bike dispensers »).

Recently, OV-Fiets approached a Dutch consulting company (NPC Consultancy) with a view to developing this high-potential product, made available in 2002.


The OV-Fiets themselves are not profitable due to the low rental price. Let us recall that the primary objective is to answer the needs of a broad panel of users and not to generate profits from a limited customer base. A cost-benefit analysis carried out by the Fietsersbond cycling association evidenced the fact that the operation of the OV-Fiets (system, bikes, storage racks) is profitable if one takes the sale of additional train tickets into account, but that the profits are not sufficient to pay for the premises used. The funding  of this part by the city and provinces is justified by the gains in terms of health, emissions of CO2, congestion, etc.

Communication :

An information web site exists (in Dutch only, http://www.ov-fiets.nl, rebuilt during the summer 2008), but overall the NS judged that the marketing was inadequate. In 2008 the NS thus called on a consulting firm (NPC), which has worked for them for the past 14 years, in order to develop the marketing and pinpoint the improvements to be made to the product (design job), in view of the remarks made in particular by the Fietsersbond association.

Résults :

- Strengths : The number of rentals evidences strong growth: 120 000 for one quarter this year as compared with 100 000 for all of 2002. 1 to 3 OV-Fiets stations are opened every month. About thirty companies have also entered into agreements with OV-Fiets for their employees. The users of OV-Fiets are white-collar workers, businessmen or Dutch tourists. 

The major asset of OV-Fiets is that they offer a simple, visible system which is the same everywhere. The market is also quite specific (the rental time is one day, which may be extended up to three days).

- Weaknesses : The present defect is the complexity of the subscription system, which requires several forms and a few days’ wait (the company is working on simplifying the subscription process). Another defect noted by the Fietsersbond is the relatively poor quality of the bikes rented.

individual boxes 

Ov-Fiets park

automatic park

Downloadthis document in pdf format

Contacts :  http://www.ov-fiets.nl, Frans Slats, NPC Consultancy, frans.slats@npc.eu - Marsha Tylek, NPC Consultancy, marsha.tylek@npc.eu - Mr Kaj Mook, manager of OV-fiets.