In the Netherlands, we’ve observed many different public transit so far. This has included buses, ferries, trams, subway systems, regional rail, and probably more that I just can’t remember. Every one of these modes integrates with bicycles differently. Bikes were not often seen on trams or buses because it would seem that they shared a common trip type. They were both for short distances within cities. There are probably a few instances where it would be easier to take a tram than bike because the distance was just a little too far, but we did not observe these. From what we saw, it would be difficult to get a bike on tram or other small vehicle because they were always packed with people; a large bike would just be in everyone’s way.
In terms of bikes on subway systems or on the regional rail, it seems much easier. The bikes have a space on each of these modes where they can be parked and then seats nearby for people to sit. It was easy enough to find a place on the regional rail line when we took our bikes on it. However, after we rode the train, we realized that one needed a special bike ticket on the train in order to bring a bike. They could have done a little better job in signing this because none of us knew about it and it was easy to just bring a bike on board.
In terms of simply integrating bikes and transit without bringing the vehicles on board, the Netherlands has figured this system out perfectly. At every train stop there are thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) bike spaces to leave a bike. In the large train stations, there are even bike parking garages that make it even easier to find a convenient spot. These facilities also do the extra job of making the whole experience feel a little “classier” and more modern because it feels like an upgrade over chaining a bike to a fence post, like we do in the United States.
In terms of simply just the transit service, the Dutch system is very speedy and seemingly pretty reliable. This is mainly due to the fact that the transit services have their own right-of-way most of the time, so they don’t get slowed down by changing traffic conditions. People are also just used to taking public transit, so there aren’t many instances where you’ll get tourists standing in front of a door and blocking the access points to a train (like we did a few times).
In terms of on-time performance, a train is “on-time” if it departs within 120 seconds after its scheduled departure time. This means any train that departs earlier is not considered reliable, as people would arrive at the station seemingly on-time and still miss the train. They said they consider a “reliable” service to be one that only has a few late or early departures.