zone-Tag at bus stops in Aachen


first of all: sorry for writing in English.

In Aachen (Aken) we have several bus stops tagged with “zone=< four digit number >” (example: Node: ‪Vaals Grenze‬ (‪3446996479‬) | OpenStreetMap). I think that number indicates to which dutch public transport zone that stop belongs and was added by ZoneImport - OpenStreetMap Wiki. My questions are:

  • Are these numbers still valid?
  • And if so: Does the tag “zone” makes sense? Because it is mostly used for traffic or parking zones. For instance at stops (also) approached by a belgian bus line the tag “zone:TEC” (Node: ‪Elisenbrunnen‬ (‪418170257‬) | OpenStreetMap) is used to indicate the belgian public transport zone.


That number could refer to a public transport zone which is used for certain subscription types that are valid within one or more zones. Here is a tool that shows all zones (first select Arriva, then Limburg). Aachen would be 6646. The bus stop in your example apparently lies in the Vaalser Quartier zone. So yes, the numbers are still valid.

Wether the tag name zone is appropriate, I can’t say, but at least it doesn’t look like an ideal situation to me.
Since TEC is the name of a bus company, I wouldn’t use that scheme (e.g. zone:Arriva), because the Dutch zones are not specific to one particular bus operator.

I noticed that bus stops in The Netherlands seem to have the zone number in a ref:IFOPT tag as well (e.g NL:Q:xxxxyyyy, where xxxx appears to be the zone number), but I don’t know how that would work for foreign stops frequented by Dutch operators.

Maybe someone in this thread could shed some light on this issue.

Thanks for the tool, I only found a very old PDF:

Maybe a “zone:OV” or “zone:NL” could be a solution (at least on the stops in Aachen).

Zones are still things, but only used in one of the subscription models (“sterabbonnement”). The map can be found at

The first 4 digits of a stop should reflect the zone it is in … at the time of creation. But zone boundaries change (rarely, but they do).
Also, there are a lot of stops that are in 2 (or sometimes 3 or 4) zones (e.g. the bus stop “'t Oor” in Almere, is in it’s own special zone without zone number … this bus stop belongs to 4 zones at once)
So the first 4 digits of the IFOPT stop (or even quay) number is not a 100% guarantee to be the actual zone number.

However, this is one thing where I would not add this data to openstreetmap, as it is only necessary for the buying of a subscription, and every site where you can do that has their own zone tool or refers to one. There is not a lot of actual value in knowing the zone numbers of your start and end stop - you need to know the amount of zone boundaries you cross. You could count the number of zone number changes for all stops in between, but even then there’s stretches of line that traverse a zone but do not stop there - increasing the number of “stars” you need, without being able to deduct that from stop data alone.

So, if I understand correctly, I could savely delete the zone-Tag?

I have no idea what weird dataprocessor depends on it, but I would certainly not add it to any new bus stops.

In the beginning the zones were used to determine the price of your journey.
Travelling over one zone-boundary, you had to pay twice a certain amount.
Passing two boundary’s, you paid three times that amount.
And so on.
Perhabs it is still in use within the bus-company’s to determine the price between two busstops.
Deleting this zone=xxxx is what I do whenever I check a busstop.
So you can savely delete the zone-tag in Aachen.

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There are no* bus companies in NL that use this anymore for “normal” trips.
Only if you buy a subscription (abonnement).

  • Yes, there are a few operators that have bus tickets that rely on “zones” but these don’t correspond to the zones of the Nationale Strippenkaart.