Richard MacManus is posting a three part series on SmartCards from around the world on ReadWriteWeb.
London’s Oyster Card (10 million in circulation)
Tokyo’s Suica Card (28 million in circulation)
Hong Kong’s Octopus Card (19 million in circulation)
While each of these metropolitan pass cards have made life easier for those that use them, as you can see from the photo above (taken while getting on a Tokyo city bus), the card is really just another form of currency that needs to be carried around.
Hesinki’s public transit also has an RFID-based metro card. The Personal Travel Card (1.1 million in circulation) can be purchased for up to six months worth of unfettered travel on any of the region’s buses, trains, trams, subways, or ferries.
Of course, this is Finland so you can also SMS for a single fare. Just text “A1” to the HKL number and you’ll get a message back that you can show the conductor and is good for an hour. Somehow (I guess by reading your cell ID?) the message reads your location and the fare is good for your region. Fares go up late at night so if you’re texting for a ticket late at night, the fare goes up automatically. All charges go automatically onto your phone bill.
It would be nice if there wasn’t a premium (2 euros for a 1.65 euro fare) on SMS tickets. It might almost be worth it. The 6 month pre-paid pass that I bought is most certainly a waste because I don’t use it every day.