Thursday, 30 August 2012
Plastic or Paper?
Travel cards. I seem to be building up a collection of them. I never like to throw them away, just in case I need them again. So I end up bringing home a souvenir travel card from every city I visit. These little bits of plastic have to be one of the best transport-related inventions ever. No more scrappy paper tickets to keep in your wallet, no more queueing for the bus or the subway, just beep and go!
In Korea, the brilliant thing is that you only need one card for the whole country! Whereas in the UK each city has its own public transport card for use only in that particular city, the Korean 'T-money' is accepted on public transport in Seoul, Busan and beyond, so wherever you go, you never need to worry about buying tickets. You can also use T-money in Seoul city taxis, and even some convenience stores accept it as payment! My own Korean travel card is that very unassuming old grey thing at the bottom left of the picture - but most people in Seoul don't use ugly cards like mine, in fact they don't even use cards. There are cute little key-fob things you can dangle from your phone instead, or you can use your credit card or phone to beep through the barriers.
Of course, you have to admit that the 'queen' of travel cards must be my limited edition Transport for London Oyster card. Actually, I forgot my old Oyster card one day, and since my old card was a student one from years ago with a completely faded ID picture anyway, I decided to get a new one. So I put £5 in the card vending machine at the station ... and was so surprised when this thing dropped out! The design is so boring it looks like a normal ID card. Except it's the Queen. Awesome.