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A Taste of Amsterdam: I Took the Streetcar!

European cities are always good examples for urban planners. It was always my dream to see how those cities are developed. I was lucky to have a chance to travel to three European cities, (Amsterdam, Brussel, Paris) and experience the distinct culture of each place. One aspect I was impressed by was their public transportation system. Veronica O.Davis, wrote about her previous trip in Amsterdam (A TALE OF THREE CITIES – AMSTERDAM: I DIDN’T DO THE THING YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO), and this was a trip planned from her previous experiences.  


Speaking of Amsterdam, this was my favorite city to visit on this trip. There were such beautiful and colorful architectures, and the organizational street layout was impressive. The city is under sea level and is composed of several canal networks. The name “Amsterdam” came from canal Amstel and the Dam Square (home of the Royal Palace).  The layout of the inner-city canal ring was their city’s signature pattern. Originally, those canals functioned as the fortification.


Amsterdam Old Map


Present Amsterdam Map

The public transportation system mentioned in this article is not solely limited within inner city transportation but also inter-city transportation.


Inter-city transportation

We took Thalys train from Centraal station in Amsterdam to the Paris Nord station. Then from Paris Nord to Brussel Midi station. The Centraal Station in Amsterdam was large, spacious, and easy to access. Thinking about how we usually catch the metro to go to work, that is how easy to catch a train in Amsterdam. What’s more convenient is that they can use the same transit card on almost all public transportation systems. There are many lines in the station that ran every 20-30 minutes. Impressively, the train will leave at the exact scheduled time.


Amsterdam Centraal station

Inner city transportation

As we all know, the bicycle is the primary mode of transportation for people live in Amsterdam, and I have never seen so many bikes in the city like that.



Interesting details:

  1. They have a trash can that builds specifically for bicyclists.


  1. This pole design really solves a lot of problems in dense trains or for those who lean on the pole.



It was hard to ignore the streetcar system in Amsterdam, which could be found in almost every street. We bought an “IAmsterdam” card, despite the fact that almost all the public transportations are free (from the bus/streetcar to subway) during a certain time. It was very easy to get around thanks to their developed transit network.

  • Frequency:

Every time I waited for a bus, my waiting time was no more than 12 minutes


  • Punctuality:


There was a screen by every bus/streetcar stop and shows the time when and which bus/streetcar will arrive.


  • Easy Read Signage:


As a non-Dutch speaker, walking around and looking for places is not hard for me at all. I was able to always spot the sign and tell me the direction.


There also some part that I am not used to in this city, such as people biking so fast that I almost bump into several bikers.


After all, Amsterdam is an amazing city with a great transit system, I will talk more about the city in my next blog.


Mei Fang, who is an urban planner with a strong passion for urban and landscape design, she also enjoys looking for the variety culture inside of the city.



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