New Lítačka card was prepared in secret and will be phased in
The controversial Opencard, which works as a mass transit pass and library card, will be phased out and replaced with a new card with a working name of Lítačka.
Prague City Hall has been working on the preparing the new card in secret. Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) announced the new card at a press conference, after rumors of the launch had already spread through Czech media.
“We have prepared a custom solution that is cheap, reliable and above all we will operate it ourselves,” Krnáčová said in a news release.
“We will operate in a totally different manner than before. The new solution will cost us less than in the past,” she said.
Krnáčová said the card would be launched in test operation in February and people could be using it for travel by the middle of the year. The total cost of the project will not exceed Kč 6 million.
The new Lítačka card will be introduced gradually depending on the expiration date of the user’s current Opencard. The two cards will operate side by side in a transition period.
The new card, since it is operated by the city, will not require the city to make monthly service payments to the operating company, the news release said.
Opencard was launched in 2007, but there were allegations at the time that the cost of the project was too high and several audits were launched. A police investigation concluded in 2010 concluded the project was overpriced, and several city councilors were charged with violating competition laws and received suspended sentences. Some of the sentences were eventually overturned or softened, however.
To date, the Opencard project has cost the Kč 1.74 billion.
The Opencard project continues to be controversial, with the current operator and the city locked in a dispute with the current operator eMoneyServices (EMS) over access to the program to operate the cards.
Krnáčová cited Opencard as one of the most egregious examples of problems in city administration when she took office in November 2014. She said in 2015 that Opencard would be replaced within two years.
Opposition politicians from TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats (ODS) voiced objections to the project being developed in secrecy.
EMS representatives also voiced objections to the new card.