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Multi-transport cards that make commuting a breeze

19 May 2010

These smart cards feature a range of transport options – and more – allowing travellers to move around a city more conveniently and cheaply. Here are some from selected cities.

HONGKONG

Name of the card: Octopus

Issued by: Octopus Cards Limited

Where can you use it? The transport industry was the first to embrace Octopus in 1997, allowing commuters to take the ride of their choice using a single card. About 95 percent of people in the city use the smart card to pay for rides on the MTR, tram, bus and ferry. What’s more, Octopus card holders enjoy discounted fares on the MTR train.

Other functions: Envisioned as a multi-purpose stored value card, the function of the Octopus has expanded beyond fare collection. It can be used for small-value payments in convenience stores, supermarkets, fastfood chains and other retail outlets. It pays for cinema tickets and parking fees among others. Hongkong residents who frequent Shenzhen can now utilise their Octopus to purchase in DFS outlets and fastfood chains like Cafe de Coral, and in Macau, the KFC outlets on Rua do Campo and in Sands Casino accept the smart-card payment.

Where is it available? At MTR Customer Service Centres and designated Customer Service Centres of major public transport operators.

Price: HK$150 (US$19) for a standard card for adults. The price is inclusive of a HK$50 (US$6) deposit, which will be refunded – together with the remaining value on the card – when it is returned at the customer service counter of any MTR station or any New World First Ferry pier. There is a refund handling fee of HK$7 (US$0.90) if the Octopus is returned within three months after the date of issue.

Website: www.octopus.com.hk

KUALA LUMPUR

Name of the card: Touch ‘n Go

Issued by: Touch n’ Go Sdn Bhd, formerly known as Rangkaian Segar Sdn Bhd

Where can you use it? Known locall as “TnG”, it can be used to pay fares on RapidKL buses as well as train rides on Kelana Jaya Line, KL Monorall, Ampang Line and KTM Komuter network.

Other functions:  The smartcard is accepted as a mode of payment for small-value transactions mostly in F&B outlets, including Starbucks, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and more. It is also used to purchase other items and services such as petrol at Caltex stations. The card is the preferred mode of payment for parking and highway fees and can secure admission tickets to theme parks like Aquaria KLCC and Desa Waterpark.

Where is it available? At 7-Eleven outlets, gas stations, pharmacies and other authorised “agents” around the city. It can also be purchased at TnG sales counters along major highways.

Price: MYR10 (US$3) for the card. Top-up value ranges between MYR20 (US$6) and MYR500 (US$155). For security reasons, the maximum value that a card can carry is MYR1,500 (US$464).

Website: www.touchngo.com.my

LONDON

Name of card: Oyster

Issued by: Transport for London (TfL)

Where can you use it? On most public transport in Greater London, such as buses, the London Underground, Dockland Light Railways, Thames Clipper Riverboats and all suburban trains stopping in TfL’s zones 1 to 9 as well as a very limited number outside it. The Oyster card cannot be used on the Heathrow Express service.

Other functions: N/A

Where is it available? From Underground stations, mainline train stations and selected convenience stores and newsagents. Overseas, visitors can pre-order an Oyster card before their arrival in the UK and must allow up to 12 days in most cases for it to arrive, visit http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk for details. Alternatively, it is available from local agents, such as VisitBritain tourist offices, in certain key locations visit www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14481.aspx for a list.

Price: Overseas travellers pay from £12 (US$17) upward for a pre-ordered Oyster card delivered to them direct.

Website: www.tfl.gov.uk

OSAKA

Name of the card: Kansai Thru Pass

Issued by: Surutto Kansai Association

Where can you use it? On subways, private railways and buses throughout the Kansai district. This multi-transport pass is only available to visitors holding a short-stay entry status. It enables them to tour Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto and visit Nara, Wakayama and Koyasan.

Other functions: A Kansai Thru Pass ticket opens the door to a slew of discounts on hotel accommodations, spa treatments, F&B services and more. Ticket holders also get discounts on admission fees at several attractions such as museums around the city.

Where is it available? With overseas travel agents in countries, including Hongkong, Australia, Germany, France and the US. In Japan, the multi-transport pass is sold at the Osaka International Airport Information Center, at several offices of the Osaka Visitors’ Information Center and at hotels such as Miyako Hotel Osaka, Imperial Hotel Osaka and Ramada Hotel.

Price: JPY3,800 (US$41) for a two-day ticket and JPY5,000 (US$54) for a three-day ticket.

Website: www.surutto.com

SEOUL

Name of card: T-money Card

Issued by: Korea Smart Card Co Ltd

Where can you use it? The T-money Card can be used on local buses and subways in Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi-do area.

Other functions: Register your T-money card online to get mileage points, which can be converted into T-money. The card can also be used as payment in many convenience stores, fastfood outlets, vending machines and even some cinemas and theatres.

Where is it available? Nearly all convenience stores, including GS25, while subway ticket booths can sell T-money cards as well as top up existing ones.

Price: The basic card is KRW2,500 (US$2.20). The balance on the card, minus KRW500 (US$0.45) can be refunded any time.

Website: http://eng.t-money.co.kr

SHANGHAI

Name of card: Shanghai Public Transportation Card (SPTC)

Issued by: Shanghai Public Transportation Card Co Ltd

Where can you use it? SPTC is an accepted mode of payment on buses, metros, ferries, taxis and airport maglev. It is interchangeable with the Wuxi Tai-Lake Transportation Card, the multi-transport pass being used in Suzhou and Hangzhou.

Other functions: You can use SPTC to pay car park fees, gasoline charges and costs of auto repair.

Where is it avaiable? At selected convenience stores and banks throughout Shanghai, as well as at all metro stations’ service counter.

Price: A standard card has a CNY20 (US$3) refundable deposit. Cheaper, lower-tiered cards are available, but these do not offer refunds. Reload value is in multiples of CNY10 (US$1.50).

Website: www.sptcc.com

SINGAPORE

Name of the card: Singapore Tourist Pass

Issued by: EZ-Link Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Singapore’s Land Transport Authority.

Where can you use it: It is a version of the city’s ubiquitous EZ-Link card that residents use to pay for public transport and small-value transactions in retail and F&B outlets. Unlike the standard EZ-Link card, the Singapore Tourist Pass gives visitors to the Lion City unlimited rides on the MRT and LRT trains and basic bus services.
 
Other functions: It comes bundled with merchant offerings. Enjoy discounts and other perks from attractions such as Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park to name a few.

Where is it available? At TransitLink ticket offices inside MRT stations in Changi Airport, Orchard, Chinatown, Bugis, Raffles Place, HarbourFront and Ang Mo Kio. The card can also be bought online for overseas delivery. However, while rental deposit is not charged, cards bought through the internet cost S$10 (US7.20) more than their normal price. The extra cost is equivalent to the rental deposit, which is levied on cards purchased locally.

Price: S$8 (US$5.75) per day. Visitors have the option of buying a 1-day, 2-day or 3-day pass. The card comes with a rental deposit S$10 (US$7.20), which is refundable if th card is returned within five days of the issue date.

Website: www.thesingaporetouristpass.com

SYDNEY

Name of the card: MyZone’s MyMulti3 Pass

Issued by: Government of New South Wales

Where can you use it? Unlimited train travel across the entire CityRail network as well as unlimited rides on government and private buses, and government ferries.

Other functions: N/A

Where is it available? Tickets are available citywide from train stations, ticket machines, selected retail outlets and ferry terminals.

Price: A weekly MyMulti3 Pass costs A$57 (US$50). For travellers on shorter stays, there is a MyMulti DayPass at A$20 (US$17.53).

Website: www.myzone.nsw.gov.au

TOKYO

Name of the card: Suica Card

Issued by: East Japan Railway Company

Where can you use it: Exclusively for city visitors, the card is accepted to board the JR East train lines, the subways and Tokyo buses.

Other functions: It can be used for a variety of purchases from dining, entertainment to retail fashion and many more.

Where is it available? The Suica Card can only be picked up at the JR East Travel Service Centers located in Terminal and Terminal 2 of Narita International Airport. Currently, travellers have an option to get a Suica card bundle with a one-way N’EX airport train ticket from Narita to the Tokyo/Yokohama area.

Price: The Suica + N’EX package costs between JPY 3,500 (US$38) and JPY5,000 (US$54), depending on the N’EX cabin class category you choose. Price is inclusive of a JPY500 (US$5.40)-deposit on The Suica Card. On purchase, the card has a pre-load value of JPY1,500 (US$16).

Website: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html and http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/suica-nex/index.html

Kenny Coyle, Gigi Onag, Joy Zhou and Sarah Spaeth

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