Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Going Paperless (Finally)
Yesterday Beijing Subway ended using paper tickets and started issuing magnetic striped ones just like in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.
Beijing has been using paper tickets since it opened in 1971, but now it's gone electronic.
Commuters can either buy single-journey tickets at ticket vending machines at each station or use their Yikatong prepaid cards, where you can load up as much money as you want. The Yikatong cards can be used on the bus, subway and even some grocery stores to buy things.
As yesterday was the first day, many staff were on hand to make sure people swiped their cards at the individual entrance and exit machines, or knew where to slip the individual tickets in the slots.
Exiting was a bit of a hassle, as most passengers were used to just walking out of the station as before they didn't need to swipe or feed their ticket into the machine to get out.
There are complaints that some people can still sneak out as the exits are not turnstiles, but the ones that open and shut after a certain period of time.
Nevertheless it's a step up, as now the subway system will be able to monitor traffic flow and quickly adjust the train schedules accordingly.
Well, that's what they say they'll do. We'll have to see if service improves.
Next month, three more lines will open -- Line 10, the Olympic Line and Airport Line. Everyday I can see them testing the Airport train that goes by my place.
I'm just glad the subway, with its improvements in signage, renovations of subway exits and now this electronic system will move more people to public transit.
Now if only they can install more escalators and during rush hour make escalators and people movers more accessible instead of closing them off, making it it more frustrating to transfer from one line to another.
Also -- why not make it easier for people to buy and add money to their Yikatong cards? No stations sell these cards and only a few help you add money into them.
Hopefully that will be the next step in making the commute as convenient as possible.