Geen Dienst are two of the earliest Dutch words that we picked up. They translate to ‘no service’ but we took them to be name of some station because we would see a tram or metro train occasionally display these words on the electronic sign where it would otherwise show the name of its final destination. Yesterday was a 24-hour transport strike in Amsterdam and the sign was in vogue. The employees of the company (GVB) that runs trams, buses and ferries here, were protesting against deep cuts in government spending on public transport. The bells and the whirring electronic motors of the trams are such an integral part of the aural landscape of central Amsterdam that it felt eerily quiet without them. And there is no way I could have stood in the middle of the tracks and snapped a picture of Centraal Station like this on a regular day:
I am a big fan of the public transport here - it’s clean, fast, affordable and very punctual. It would be tragic if the budget cuts brought down the service to a point where people lost the incentive to use it.