Opencard ends, Lítačka expands

Prague and Central Bohemia are closer to fully integrating their systems

Prague is definitely shutting down the scandal-plagued Opencard. Passengers using the red card will lose the opportunity to record coupons for public transport from November. The alternative transit card Lítačka card was launched in March 2016, and both systems have been running side by side. Lítačka will expand with a new website and a new app as Opencard shuts down.

People who have bought a transit coupon on Opencard can continue to use it until the coupon expires. As of Sept. 1, anybody using an Opencard can transfer to Lítačka free of charge.

Some 240,000 Opencards are still in use, according to City Hall. Lítačka is used by about a half million people. Prague has a population of 1.26 million, counting children who ride for free. Central Bohemia has 1.3 million.

While one method for saving travel coupons is closing, the city is also adding new ones. A new system called PID Lítačka will enable pre-paid fares to be recorded on Czech Railway’s In-Karta as well as contactless payment cards, and these can be used not only in Prague but also in the Central Bohemia region. It launches Aug, 27 with the new website www.pidlitacka.cz.

“I am very pleased that in Prague and Central Bohemia it will be easier to use travel public transport. I am glad we finally went on the path of digitization and introduced 21st-century technologies to handling passengers in the capital and the Central Bohemian region, and we finally are closing the infamous chapter of Opencard,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said.

Passengers will not be required to activate long-term coupons in metro stations, but can do everything online, including choosing fare options. Monthly as well as annual coupons will be supported.

This is a benefit to people in the Central Bohemia region and suburbs, as they do not need to visit the city before using their cards. Users can also be notified of the coming expiration of their coupons by SMS or email.

Coupon information will no longer be recorded directly on the cards, but will be stored in a central system. The card, whether it is the green Lítačka or a credit or rail card, will serve only as a passenger identifier.

The city still hopes to expand the system. “We are currently working to link PID Lítačka to other municipal services. Our plans for the future development of PID Lítačka will be presented this year,” Krnáčová said

Czech Railways (ČD) board member Michal Štěpán welcomes the linking of Lítačka to In-Karta. “Czech Railways … welcomes the regional transport system PID Lítačka, which will support train travel and other types of public passenger transport in and around Prague. All ticketing technology is interwoven, and passengers with In-Karta thus gain another convenient option. The involvement of rail transport in the whole system of Prague Integrated Transport (PID) is enormous and, thanks to the possibility of including our transport card, is even greater. Our dispatchers are ready for a new way of handling [passengers],” he said.

The city has been pioneering some aspects of this technology. “The regional transport system PID Lítačka is unique in the Czech environment since partners from both the capital and Central Bohemia cooperated in its preparation. … We are ready to share our experience from implementing this demanding system with other cities and regions in the field of smart city solutions. I am glad that this big project fits into the concept of Smart Prague,” Michal Fišer, CEO of the city company Operátor ICT, said. The company developed Lítačka and other high-tech city projects.

Leaders in Central Bohemia are also happy about the new system. “"I am very glad that the Central Bohemian region and Prague are getting a little closer. Thanks to the new ticket system, passengers traveling from Central Bohemian will finally be able to use one payment system for the entire ride, which will certainly be appreciated by the Central Bohemians who commute to Prague daily. This system will make it easier to integrate other areas of the region into a single transport system. Trains in the whole Central Bohemia region are still being integrated this year, and the integration of buses should also be expanded. The completion of integration across the Central Bohemian region should be completed by the end of next year,” Central Bohemian Governor Jaroslava Pokorná Jermanová.

The PID Lítačka mobile application, which had been in beta testing, from Sept. 1 onward will completely replace the PID Info application.

In addition to the purchasing one-time fares up to three days, the mobile app PID Lítačka will also allow buying tickets ahead with their later activation, as well as the option of forwarding the ticket to a third person, the possibility of activating multiple tickets at once, and searching for the current connections including temporary restrictions. It will also have info on P+R lots. The app will newly allow passengers in Central Bohemia to purchase an electronic ticket through a mobile application.

“We are convinced that the new application PID Lítačka is user-friendly and will make it easier for travelers in Prague and in the Central Bohemian region. During the test beta release of the application, we received a lot of feedback from users, some will already be working and we will improve the app. Currently only short-term time fares can be purchased in the app. … By the end of the year long-term time coupons [can be purchased],” Operátor ICT’s Fišer said.

The investment costs for the construction and development of the project exceeds Kč 40 million. The operating costs of the regional transport system PID Lítačka are Kč 3 million per month. Prague and Central Bohemia have shared investment and operating costs because this system integrates the two regions. “Our ambition is to reduce the transaction costs for transport services in a significant way thanks to the new system,” Fišer said.

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