Prague - Public transport in the capital city is entering an electronic era. The first five thousand passengers are now able to travel on buses, trams and the metro using Opencard electronic passes instead of standard paper tickets.
Opencards were introduced into use on 1 October for Prague's public transport network as 30- or 90-day passes. Opencard holders could download these tickets in selected places starting in August, when Prague Public Transit Company (DP) joined the Prague card project.
"Roughly five thousand passengers will use public transport with a valid electronic ticket tomorrow," DP spokesman Ondřej Pečený said on Tuesday.
Season tickets are now also available in an e-shop, which DP launched on Monday and which has been visited by hundreds of people during the first couple of hours of operation. "At 1pm on Tuesday, we registered 1,250 orders for electronic tickets that passengers activate on their Opencards," said Pečený.
Apart from the 30- and 90-day tickets, passengers can purchase a full-year pass for the year 2009. If they buy it on the internet by the end of October, they can get a CZK 475 discount that regular shops only offered to those who applied for their card before 20 September.
Buy your ticket online
DP believes that the electronic store will cut the queues of passengers at ticket windows. Besides electronic tickets, the e-shop also sells the standard paper season tickets that customers can have delivered for a fee or can pick them up at the DP information centre. "We registered sixty orders for paper season tickets," Pečený said.
After they have paid for the Opencard, passengers activate the electronic ticket either in metro stations at a so-called validator or in one of 13 municipal library branches where Opencards are available.
"The validator looks like a ticket machine, in which you insert your Opencard to activate the season ticket," project spokesman Martin Opatrný said.
"Those who do not believe machines and prefer a personal approach can go to some of the selected branches of the municipal library, where trained employees will activate the ticket for them," he added.
The library staff can also assist passengers with the online purchase of season tickets. However, customers then have to go to the library twice. "There is about a five-day lag between the purchase and the time you can activate the coupon," Opatrný said.
The validating machines are located only at five metro stations for the time being - at Roztyly, Budějovická, I. P. Pavlova, Florenc and Vltavská.
Money back for uncollected tickets
Passengers can use the e-shop anonymously or they can register. When entering their card or paper transport pass number, the system is able to recognise what fare type they use and offer them relevant tickets, for example student fares.
The validity of tickets for periods shorter than one year can begin within 59 days after they have been purchased.
Customers can pay with a creadit or debit card or use a bank account transfer, and they have to activate the ticket on their Opencard within 20 days from the time of purchase and at least one day before the ticket validity period starts.
o The Opencard project was launched in April 2007, but demand for it was not significant. The card was only used to pay for parking and as a library card.
o Prague Public Transit Company joined the project in August. Passengers will not be able to buy yearly passes without the card.
o The fare system should be fully electronic by 2010.
"If you do not collect you ticket before this deadline, the settled sum of money will be sent to your account automatically," the DP spokesman said, confirming information available on the Opencard website.
Adapted and republished by Prague Daily Monitor.