Nov 21, 2010

Unreadable subway cards after x-ray scanning

If you've stayed in Beijing longer than a week, you'll have purchased an yikatong, which is the local, rechargeable subway card. It saves you lots of time, since you'll not have to line up and buy a single-trip card for each subway journey you make.

I have my card with me even when I travel outside of Beijing. This is because I'll often take the airport express subway line to the airport, and I'll save time by swiping my subway card when I ride.

The problem with this, however, is that when you are traveling, your luggage will invariably go through like twenty or more x-ray scanners per trip. I've noticed after three or four different trips, when I return to Beijing, my card is only swipeable half the time.

I end up going to the service booth at the subway, returning my card, getting the deposit and money on it returned to me, and then buying a new one. I can't figure out what's up with this.

I take my credit cards, my work badge, and other similar cards on the same trips, and I've never had any problems with them after many years. The Beijing subway yikatong seems to be very delicate.

Heaven forbid your card becomes completely unreadable. Then you have no way of getting your money off the card, except to travel to Xizhimen somewhere to a special office. I currently have one such card with about $10 on it. It's just not worth it for me to waste one or two hours traveling and waiting in line for that. I've thought about delegating the task, or just giving the card, to my cleaning lady.


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