Once you have settled into your new Nanjing home you might want to start exploring the city. Part of that is making use of it’s expansive public transport system; with countless busses, six brand new metro lines, two thirds of which opened only in the past year and even its very own tram, Nanjing is well covered for those who want to get around without a car. Of course having to dig for the exact change of ¥2 each time or having large sums of coins returned at the metro stop can turn into a bit of a fuss.
Enter Nanjing’s very own Smart Card, the 金陵通. This is a stored-value card that can to be used to pay for transport, groceries to fast food and even petrol. Two types of card are available; registered 记名卡 and unregistered 记名卡, with the former requiring your passport and a deposit of ¥30. The latter only requires a down payment of ¥25 and no ID is necessary. There is a minimum top up of ¥50. The advantage of the registered card is the ability to cancel it if lost, whereas with the unregistered one the money in the card is lost if it is stolen or misplaced.
Currently the card can be used for buses, metro, tram, taxis (make sure to inform the driver before you get in the car, as some of them do not want to accept it), at Suguos and a number of other local supermarkets, gas stations, car parks, car wash and car repair stores as well as major Nanjing tourist attractions (some of which are eligible to discount with use of the card). Aside from this multitude of uses in Nanjing, you can take your card with you to Yangzhou, Huai’an and Jurong, though ONLY if it is not registered and top-up or other services are only possible in Nanjing.
One great benefit of the card is that it will save you money in the long run, as the public transport fare is discounted when using this electronic ticketing method. The price reduction as opposed to cash payment is 20% off for buses (40% for students), ¥1.6 during the cold and hot months and ¥1.2 during non-air conditioned months (March to May, October and November), compared with the regular cash fee of ¥2 irrespective of the season. Metro tickets are 5% off, the price of a trip depends on the distance travelled and can range from ¥2 to ¥8, in which case the maximum discount is ¥0.4.
In addition, switching from metro to bus and vice versa within an hour automatically results in another ¥0.4 discount. While this sum of money on its own might seem rather insignificant, the savings can add up. In case of a daily bus trip to and from work in the temperate months, you would end up saving over ¥30 a month.
Where to Buy and Top-Up the Nanjing Metro Card
There are many locations to find the card, two principal places for expats being firstly Gulou metro station (between exits 1 and 2; look for the “IC Card Recharge Service” sign. The booth is tucked in a corner and there is usually a queue) and secondly Xinjiekou metro station (at the north end of the station, just outside the passenger transfer passageway leading from Line 1 to Line 2. This is a big station, so if you get lost just ask an attendant for “IC ka” (third tone).They’ll point you the right way).
When it comes to adding credit to your card, many stations have top-up machines, which might not be incredibly easy to spot, mostly standing on their own away from regular ticket machines, but are definitely worth the search as they offer an incredibly simple top-up process, if you are particularly lucky with an employee to guide you through the process.