Case study Public transport trial offer from Maastricht Bereikbaar

The campaign Discover Public Transport encourages people in the Maastricht region to leave their cars at home and use public transport more often for commuting to work. Participants can try public transport for eight weeks for free.

Discover Public Transport is a public transport promotion measure by Maastricht Bereikbaar. The campaign stimulates car drivers to gradually switch from the car to public transport for their commute.

The project

In the South Limburg region, the authorities and employers work closely together. Maastricht Bereikbaar offers a wide range of measures through the employers. One of the reasons for the creation of Maastricht Bereikbaar was the construction of the Koning Willem-Alexander tunnel in Maastricht and traffic disruption associated with it. The traffic disruption in completing the Singel structure and the work on the Noorderbrug around Maastricht also played a role.

Discover Public Transport is part of a wide range of measures and is based on the 10-step plan of Maastricht Bereikbaar, which strives for lasting behaviour change. In this case, this means that commuters will permanently swap their cars for public transport. This in turn should lead to rush-hour avoidance and ultimately to better accessibility for Maastricht. The aim was to achieve 300 instances of rush-hour avoidance every day for the first three years.

In addition to Discover Public Transport for employers, Maastricht Bereikbaar also regularly offers visitors €2 tickets through its Visitors' Approach project, which allows visitors to use public transport very cheaply on popular days in Maastricht. Following the successful approach to the work on the Noorderbrug, a report has been made available.


Participants for Discover Public Transport are recruited through employers who have participated in Maastricht Bereikbaar. After registration, participants can try out public transport free of charge for two periods of four weeks on their home-work route:

  • The first four weeks are intended to give public transport a try (trial offer).
  • In the second period, the participants arrange their transition to public transport, for example by making agreements with the employer about the public transport allowance. Participants who are seriously considering making the switch to public transport will also receive season ticket recommendations based on their actual travel behaviour in the first four weeks.

The measure is financed under the Beter Benutten programme. Travel costs per participant are on average €250 per two month period (excluding customer service and project management costs). In addition, participants pay €40 for a personal public transport smart card.


In 2017, 52 employers were affiliated with Maastricht Bereikbaar, representing a total of 55,000 employees. The deployment of Discover Public Transport is considered to have been a success. The targets have been achieved. The impact measurement of September 2017 showed that Discover Public Transport yielded 369 rush-hour journeys avoided per day (morning rush-hour). Additional research has shown that a year after participation an average of 44% of all participants were still using public transport for commuting every week. So far there have been more than 1,100 participants.

It is also known that once commuters have used public transport , they will continue to do so quite often: on average more than four days a week. This makes Discover Public Transport a cost-effective measure. Discover Public Transport contributes 12% to the objectives of Maastricht Bereikbaar. Because those who switch generally make frequent use of public transport (4.7 days on average) and travel longer distances (34 km), they contribute 25% to the programme's CO₂ reduction. More about the effects and variables of these projects can be found in the fact sheet Public transport trial offer.

Figure 1: Rush-hour avoidance (above) and CO₂ reduction (below)

Considerations for deployment elsewhere

Discover Public Transport could easily be deployed elsewhere, as long as there is a good relationship between employers and the surrounding area. Cooperation is essential. After all, you have to be able to reach the commuters and then check whether you are actually dealing with those who commute by car.

There are a number of lessons to be learned:

  • Step-by-step behaviour change: achieving sustainable behaviour change takes time. The deployment of a trial offer for two four-week periods is the lower limit.
  • Principle of reversibility: participants must be truly free to choose and remain entitled to the employer's existing scheme (e.g. a reserved parking space).
  • Public transport rating: users rate public transport much higher (7.9) than non-users (4.5). Once people start to use public transport, a lot of their prejudices disappear.
  • Cooperation with companies: the cooperation of the employer is essential. Recruitment through the employer delivers the best results. It is essential that the employer has to arrange as little as possible during implementation. For example, registration is via the Maastricht Bereikbaar website and the public transport smart card is sent directly to the participant's home address.
  • Agreements with transport company: by making smart agreements with Arriva, Maastricht Bereikbaar has achieved a discount on implementation and participants get a follow-up offer (15% discount on an annual season ticket with Arriva).

Figure 2: Maastricht Bereikbaar's step-by-step plan for sustainable behaviour change