Prague takes over administration of Opencard

Photo: Filip Jandourek

The City of Prague has taken over administration of the Opencard – the multi-purpose transit pass with more than one million registered users. Until now, administration of the system was run by eMoneyServices but an IT team at City Hall has taken over operation of the system software after City Hall and the firm failed to reach a deal on future cooperation.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček assured cardholders they would notice no changes.

“Our IT department on Saturday evening cut off external support from eMoneyServices and as of now is in control of all maintenance and system support with the help of IT specialists.”

But eMoneyServices warned that City Hall was taking a major risk; the Czech News Agency on Monday reported that while Prague can administer the card using existing software, failing to prolong the license meant specialists could not alter the existing package, either to reprogram portions or fix bugs that cropped up. eMoneyServices spokesman Martin Opatrný said this:

“Given the state of the IT department at City Hall, I do not think they will be able to do a 100% professional job.”

A day later, it appeared the first problems had risen to the surface: Czech Radio learned that at least one customer service centre was unable to issue new cards on a ‘while you wait’ basis. Otherwise, the card appeared to be fully operational, and customers were able, for example, to recharge their Opencard as normal. Meanwhile talks with eMoneyServices can continue: the mayor pointed out that the change in administration of the system did not mean communication lines had been cut. There is presumably room for a deal of some kind to still be reached, just not at the cost of 500 million crowns the firm had sought for the rights to the system.

Tomáš Hudeček,  photo: Filip Jandourek
And if not? Mayor Hudeček promised there would be no return to earlier paper coupons which used to issued by the Prague Transit Company.

“If negotiations show there is no way forward on this card, users will get another.”

Meanwhile, eMoneyServices has pressed preliminary charges against both City Hall and the Prague Transit Company, for alleged breach of contract, so even if both sides are to continue negotiations, each is apparently trying to weaken the other side’s position or to put it another way, soften them up ahead of talks. Another potentially useful tool? A quick poll commissioned by eMoneyservices, which found 63 percent of cardholders were happy with their Opencard. The future of the Opencard is certainly doubtful but it is too soon, apparently, to declare the system dead.