Despite the moaning of many Dutch people (many of whom haven’t experienced the joy of engineering works on the London Underground), I find public transport in the Netherlands to be of an excellent standard. As someone who doesn’t like the cost, hassle, or environmental impact of cars, this suits me perfectly.
I’ve already blooged about the widespread use of the bicycle (rather than the car) as a primary mode of transport. But even if you don’t have a bicycle, it’s really easy to get around almost anywhere in Holland.
Practically every town and village, no matter how small, has a train station. The trains are more reliable and punctual than any other service I’ve used in the US, UK, or France. Again, the Dutch are always complaining about NS train service, but I can only attribute this to the fact that they aren’t comparing it to services like National Rail or Metro North.
Utrecht has a fairly extensive bus network which covers both the greater city area and provides services to neighbouring towns. Even when I’ve wanted to visit places in rural areas, such as the Kröller Müller Museum in the Hoge Veluwe National Park, I was able to get there by train and bus. I’m sure the small size and high population density of the Netherlands makes such an extensive public transport network possible.
In my old office in Maarssen, I used to look out the window to a view of the train station. The railway tracks ran along a large canal, which was essentially a road for boats, with many large cargo boats speeding by. Along the other side of the tracks ran a road, along which there was of course a designated cycle path and a bus station. So, from that one window on a busy day, I could see trains, boats, bicycles, cars, and buses all going past at once. And maybe a plane flying overhead.