The use of payment cards on public transport in the Czech Republic is set to expand markedly, slowly spelling the end of the cash purchase of tickets, Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday.
At present it is possible to get around on public transport in Prague, Brno, Plzeň and Liberec only using credit or debit cards – if passengers buy tickets from vending machines or use a few, select routes. In the future, however, cards should be used much more broadly, the newspaper said.
Today most Czechs possess contactless payment cards and such cards are accepted in the majority of the country’s retail outlets. But now card companies such as Visa and Mastercard are keen to get their customers to also use them on public transport and are collaborating with Czech banks to bring about this transformation.
The CEO of Mastercard in the Czech Republic, Miroslav Lukeš, told Hospodářské noviny that his office had been working on the project for two years, while František Jungr, regional chief of development for Visa Europe, said the hook-up with public transport authorities could help further spread the use of cards in general.
Mastercard and Visa are rivals but are set to enjoy mutual benefits if the plans bear significant fruit, says Hospodářské noviny.
The first vending machines to accept cards have been rolled out in the Czech Republic’s two biggest cities, Prague and Brno. In December almost a quarter of the tickets such machines dispensed in Brno were bought by card, Vít Prýgl, an official from the transport authority in the Czech Republic’s second city told Hospodářské noviny.
As many visitors to Prague will be aware, its yellow vending machines for public transport tickets are not always easy to find when one needs them most (and not the simplest to operate if one can locate one).
One aspect of the increased use of cards will therefore come as good news: Ticket dispensers with contactless card readers are coming to buses and trams.
At present terminals of this kind only exist on lines such as those to the Prague and Brno airports. But in the future they should be far more common.
One city – Plzeň – is set to introduce the system across its transport network by the middle of this year. Mastercard is one of the main partners of Plzeň’s just launched year as European Capital of Culture and says the terminals will make getting around far easier for visitors.
Visa, meanwhile, is due to present a joint project along the same lines with the company Arriva, which operates 2,000 local buses, in the coming fortnight.
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