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Glitches as thousands replace Helsinki region travel cards

Helsinki Region Transport’s (HSL) travel card overhaul is flooding service points as customers race to switch out their old cards.

Matkustaja näyttää pysähtymismerkkiä bussille.
Another headache for commuters in the capital region? Image: Kimmo Hiltunen / Yle

Snafus in loading old travel card information onto new ones at R-kioski outlets are sending many people to clear up problems at HSL service points.

On Friday, queues of up to 50 people formed at HSL service desks. The public transport office has three customer service offices: Itäkeskus, Pasila, and the Central Railway Station.

Leena Rautanen-Saari of HSL said there have been some cases where time and money loaded on old cards did not transfer over to new ones.

”We’ve updated our salespoint app, and we’re still looking into the root of the problem. Lots of people are changing out their cards now—on Wednesday travellers replaced 30,000 cards," she explained.

HSL began overhauling travel cards last week ahead of plans to introduce new travel zones in the spring of 2019. The change aims to increase the appeal of public transport for people using regional tickets, according to HSL.

The new zones will end the previous system, which was based on municipal boundaries. Under that system Helsinki functioned as one zone, and crossing the border into Espoo or Vantaa required the purchase of a regional ticket.

The shakeup follows the extension of the Helsinki Metro system into Espoo, and a subsequent change in commuting habits in the western suburbs.

So far, some 200,000 of the million travel cards in circulation have been replaced. Card-holders still have about six months to make the change free of charge.

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