Paper tickets, which were in service for 38 years at Beijing Subway, were phased out on Monday but would hopefully enter private collection.
An automatic fare collection (AFC) system became operational at all Beijing subway stations on Monday, requesting passengers to produce their magnetic strip tickets or mass transit smart cards twice when entering and exiting the subway gates.
A passenger buys his ticket on an automatic ticket vending machine at Xizhimen station, June 9, 2008.
At least a dozen subway workers were standing by at Fuchengmen station in downtown Beijing on Monday morning to explain the process to passengers, most of whom baffled at a line of AFC machines blocking the entrance and exit.
Previously a passenger only needed to present his paper ticket or process his smart card upon entering a subway station.
With the new system, however, the check-in and check-out gates remain closed until the magnetic strip tickets or smart cards are properly processed.
Passengers queue to enter a check-in gate at Xizhimen station, June 9, 2008.
"Be careful with the ticket. You'll still need it upon your exit," the subway workers would tell everyone who produced a magnetic strip ticket at the self-service ticket seller machine.
The ticket is retrieved by the AFC system upon a passenger's exit.
All the TVs in subway trains, which have been installed to live broadcast Olympic events to the passengers during the Games, keep playing a video to explain how the new fare collection system works.
The fare for a subway ride remains unchanged, at two yuan.
At Taobao.com, a popular retail website, paper subway tickets of yesteryear are already wooed by some private collectors. A ticket of the 1990s, with a face value of 0.2 yuan, is now sold for 100 times as much.
"I don't think such tickets have much room for further appreciation though," said an online seller surnamed Liao. "After all, they have too little cultural connotation."
Yet Liao himself has collected hundreds of subway tickets, the earliest of which were issued in the 1970s. "They'll become something when you can't lay hands on one of them."
(Xinhua News Agency June 9, 2008)