City Hall eyes transit discount

Students and seniors may see a price cut just ahead of the municipal elections

Prague City Hall wants to reduce the public transit fare for students and seniors from Sept. 1, 2018, to Kč 1,280 a year. The discount will cost City Hall about Kč 208.5 million annually.

The discount should be approved by the Prague City Council next week. The move follows the government's initiative for seniors and students to travel on trains for free.

Students currently pay Kč 2,400 for a 10-month coupon and Kč 1,100 for a five-month one.

City Hall discussed a discounted annual fare of Kč 1 per day earlier in mid-June but did not approve it as the plan was deemed not to be fully developed.

“After the City Council did not approve the reduced fare for students and seniors in the amount of Kč 365 [per year], I was looking for a way with regard to the government's proposal for free travel,” Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD) said.

Students and seniors will be able to buy three types of travel coupons: monthly for Kč 130, quarterly for Kč 360 or yearly for Kč 1,280. The existing five- and 10-month coupons used will be discontinued.

Students will be able to use the discount coupon during vacation. So far, they have been able to use it a maximum of 10 months per year, but had no way to cover the remaining two.

Coupons will always have two forms, either starting on at any time the buyer chooses or from the first of the month. Eligible people will be able to buy the coupon no sooner than 60 days before it starts its validity.

The 2018 fare loss will be covered by City Hall after sales have been evaluated. The loss for 2019 will be incorporated into the draft budget for next year.

The Czech government's program statement says the government will allow students under 26 and senior citizens over 65 to travel for free on the railway. Prague Integrated Transport (PID) includes some rail links. Because Prague and the Central Bohemia region are building a common integrated transport system that includes rail travel as well as buses, trams and ferries, the discounts should be as consistent as possible, City Hall states in the fare proposal.

Prague and other cities are having local elections at the start of October, and the new fare policy would take effect just before the elections take place.

The ANO movement, which currently heads the coalition at Prague’s City Hall, four years ago ran on a platform of deeply reducing the cost of an annual transit coupon to Kč 10 per day or Kč 3,560 per year for the average rider. It had been Kč 4,750.

ANO won the elections I 2014 and kept its promise. The reduced fare has proven quite popular. Since then City Hall has created incentives for people caught without a valid ticket to reduce their fine if they buy an annual coupon.

A new card called Lítačka was introduced in 2016. The previous OpenCard, which was the subject of several scandals, has been phased out. The Lítačka card can hold the electronic annual pass and also is valid for discounts at some museums and other benefits. The cards can also be purchased anonymously, in keeping with privacy laws.

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