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When Weird Things Get You a Free Ride

The Netherlands recently let train travelers ride free if they carried a book. Here are other strange offers that covered the cost of train or bus tickets.
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Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

On the last Sunday of March, it was possible to travel anywhere in the Netherlands by train without even buying a ticket. All you needed, in fact, was a book.

Not just any book, mind you. In keeping with an annual tradition, ticket inspectors on national carrier NS were instructed to give free travel to anyone carrying a copy of the novel Jas van Velofte (“Jacket of Promise”) by author Jan Siebelink. The deal came at the culmination of the country’s book week, an annual national literature festival. During each book week, festival organizers release a free book written especially for the occasion, available in generous but still limited numbers to anyone who buys a book (this year, worth €12.50 or more) or signs up to a library in the preceding weeks. This book then serves as a token for travel anywhere in the country.