The name 重庆宜居畅通卡 (Chong qing yi ju chang tong ka) literally means something like ‘fit for living free flowing card,’ where you can in theory travel to your destination on public transport without of the hassle of traffic jams and disruptions.
While it is possible to pay in cash on buses by simply dropping coins or notes into the box inside the front door by the driver, or using a ticket booth or automatic machine in a subway station, having a charged up transport card will definitely save you time and hassle.
Chongqing transport cards are available at multiple points round the city, like subway stations and transport kiosks. You might need to ask around to track down a booth that sells them.
You need to pay a twenty five yuan deposit, plus whatever amount you decide to charge on the card. The easiest ways to recharge are either the automatic ticket machines in subway stations, or over the counter at the branded convenience stores you will often see.
There is also a one yuan service charge taken from your card every month up to a maximum of 25, like the deposit.
It’s not necessary to show ID unless you’re applying for a discounted rate, like students or veterans etc. This also means you need to keep the card close at hand, as there is no way to recover the card if you lose it.
Using the card is as you’d expect in any major city worldwide. You just swipe it once as you enter and leave.
When a trip requires you to take a number of different routes or means of transport, the connecting journey will either be discounted or at no extra charge, depending on where you are and the distance travelled.
The card is usable on the buses and subway lines of course, but interestingly, you can also use it on the cable car that takes you over the Yangtze River between Jiefangbei and Nanan Districts, and also the giant escalator between Lianglukou两路口 and Caiyuanba菜园坝 where the central train station is located. I will do a post on the escalator at a later date, but it’s officially the second largest escalator in Asia at 112 metres long, and takes two and a half minutes to ride.
Apart from these, it’s sometimes possible to to pay for taxi rides, public telephones and using in shops. Just look for the card sign or 宜居畅通卡.
On a final note, I have purchased some souvenir transport cards in the past, like a mini card that can be hung on a keyring. These may be smaller, more convenient and secure than the official card, but they do sometimes go out of date and use over time, meaning you’ll have to purchase a new one.