Beijing said goodbye to paper subway tickets yesterday. They were replaced with electronic ones.

With the introduction of the new Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system, passengers can now buy the new tickets from vending machines at the entrance to each platform.

People with Yikatong prepaid cards that can be used on buses and the subway network, can continue to use them.

Before yesterday, most passengers bought paper tickets which were checked manually.

The ticket price, 2 yuan (30 cents), remains unchanged. Passengers can travel within the city’s current subway network – Line 1, Line 2, Line 5, Line 13 and Line Batong – with one ticket.

Each electronic ticket is valid for only one day.

Zhang Aihua, a manager with the Beijing Subway Company, told China Daily the new system had worked well on the first day.

“As the new system requires passengers to check in and out electronically, it records precisely their entry and departing stations. This enables us to accurately record passenger flow on each line and station.

“The subway company can adjust train schedules to ease traffic. This is especially important when the Olympic Games are held in August in Beijing,” Zhang said.

He said the electronic cards can be recycled, which contributes to conserving resources and protecting the environment.

“The introduction of the AFC system also reflects the principles of a green Olympics, a hi-tech Olympics, as well as a digital Beijing,” Zhang said.

Keith Schroeder, a tourist from the United States, said he had no problem using Beijing’s subway, which has clear signboards.

“The subway here is very clean, quiet and convenient,” he said. “This is by far the cleanest subway I have used.”

The subway opened in 1971, with a ticket price of 0.1 yuan.

With five subway lines and 140 km of tracks, it carries an average of 3 million passengers a day.

Three more lines will be added – Line 10, Olympic Line and Airport Line – next month.