Lítačka, or Opencard 2.0
Everything You Need to Know about the New Transit Card
March 1st 2016 was a significant day for Prague locals – it marked the beginning of the end of Opencards. After a long legal battle, it was decided that Lítačka will be the the future of transport tickets. There are still a lot of mysteries surrounding this new card but it has great potential despite it's rocky start.
If you have a valid Opencard, no worries, you can keep using it until it expires – but no new Opencards will be given out. A new Lítačka costs 100 CZK but replacing it with an expired Opencard is free. You will see the number of used Opencards decline for the next four years until the very last card expires.
Lítačka, translated as “swinging door”, will take Opencard's place. The card is green and there are promises to offer a bright selection of colors in the future. At the moment it is only available for purchase at Prague's Town Hall but eventually they will become available in more locations. Similarly to every new service, it will take time to evolve the card and make it easily accessible.
A perk of the Lítačka is that it will also replace the “anonymous” paper transportation cards. There will be an option of registering a card using your name, birthday, etc. But it will also be possible to buy an anonymous card, perfect for a visitor or to be used by two or more people who use public transportation infrequently. The anonymous card costs 100 CZK more.
The registered card will cost the same amount as the Opencard at the moment. But it is expected that the prices will go down with time: the hopes are that it will end up saving everyone money, including the Czech government.
Money as well as legal problems were the main reasons why the Opencard had to go. Týden.cz created a time-line of the events that led to the decision made on March 1st of this year.
The infamous red Opencard was created to replaced anonymous paper cards in April 2007. The company producing the cards, Haguess, also owned copyright laws and was in charge of managing everything. The legal issues started in November of 2009 when it was first discovered that the cost of the card didn't correspond with the state of the project – the discrepancies led to suspicions of an unfair deal.
The police began investigating the situation on February 26th of 2010 and as a result, the city of Prague took over management of the Opencard on February 1st 2011 – ownership, however, remained with Haguess. Ivan Seyček, the former director of the Information Department of the Magistrate was accused of unfair dealings in August 2011.
After signing two contracts worth 74 million dollars, Haguess handed over ownership of the Opencard to eMoneyService (EMS) in January 2013, which led to more investigations. Prague attempted to get ownership of the Opencard by created a company to manage the card, but they rejected EMS's steep price of 500 million CZK.
The continued investigations led the Anti-monopoly Department to issue a fine of one million CZK for the contracts signed between Haguess and EMS. The city of Prague had also previously received fines for questionable transportation-related contracts. In December 2014, several people were charged by the court: Ivan Seyček received the strictest sentence of 3.5 years in jail.
In August 2015, EMS announced that they will want 654 million CZK from Prague for violating license agreements and harming the reputation of the company. Just one month later EMS suggested that Prague stop using the Opencard because of their inability of managing the situation.
It took several months of planning but at the beginning of this year, Prague finally announced the start of Lítačka. There are arguments about whether continuing development of the Opencard would have saved Prague money. Other people focused on ridiculing the name of the new card.
Although the legal battle continues today, the current solution is a huge relief to everyone who worried about losing money by investing in the Opencard.
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