New Prague city card for public transport; parking
Prague residents, especially those who have long-term transport passes, will want to investigate the city’s new Opencard (www.opencard.cz ) program. This is a “smart card” which allows holders to pay for parking in Prague 1, use the resources at the municipal libraries, and most important, as a public transport pass. As of December 2008, year-long paper transport passes will no longer be issued and you will have to have an Opencard. Until the end of the year, it is free to get one; and a relatively painless process for those used to dealing with the country’s bureaucracy.
Prague’s website says the card is designed to make more city services accessible to residents. Besides the aforementioned uses; the Opencard can also act as access to the Portal of Prague website (www.praha.eu.) Various secure services can be accessed here; including your driving record. If you wish to pay for parking with your Opencard, you must purchase credit vouchers beforehand at one of the Opencard contact points. Currently, this service is only offered in Prague 1, and at parking meters that have the Opencard logo. There are plans to expand to other districts however.
As for transport passes; you can now buy 30-day, 90-day and one year passes for the Opencard. Yearlong passes will no longer be issued in a paper format, however 30 and 90-day ones will.
The goal is most likely to get rid of the paper transport ticketing system altogether. It seems to be an eclectic mix of services, but the city is attempting to comply with EU regulations to make the Union a cutting edge, technologically advanced group of countries. To this end, they are hoping to make as much information easily accessible to the general public as possible. Additional services and uses for the card will most likely continue to be introduced.
Opencard has addressed the issue of privacy. Each card will be marked with your full name and photo. Your date of birth will be embedded in the chip. In order to access the secure site on the City of Prague website, you will be required to have a PIN number as well. If the card is lost or stolen, you can contact Opencard to have it blocked. On public transport; ticket-checkers will be equipped with microform readers to check the validity of Opencards. If your card has been blocked, this would register on these electronic scanners.
Applications can be downloaded from the Opencard website. Download and fill out two; you’ll need to leave one there, and you’ll get one back. There’s also an “agreement with processing of personal data” form you will need to sign once you get to the office. The form is basic – name, birth date, gender, address, email, telephone number.
Bring the form, your passport and two passport sized photos to Opencard’s main customer service center at Palác Adria, Jungmannova 31 in Prague 1. Walking in, you’ll need to get a number from the dispenser on your left. The rooms where they are issuing the cards are all the way in the back. There are also many helpful girls dressed in Opencard shirts to assist you. Applications can be filled out here as well.
I was warned of long lines, but at noon on a Wednesday total time was less than 15 minutes. You’ll be asked how you want to receive your card – ask for it to be mailed to you; right now that is the quickest option. Currently stated processing times are ten business days.
The website says to bring two passport photos; however, the woman processing my application only took one. Better be safe though and bring two.
Until the end of the year, the Opencard is being issued for free; starting January 1, 2009 a charge will apply. If you lose, break or otherwise harm your card, you will be charged a replacement fee of 200CZK. The card will be good for four years.