Commuters between Hong Kong and Shenzhen will be able to use a single card for transport in both cities from today, but will have to wait for more advanced features.
A commemorative version of the two-in-one card, "Hu Tong Xing", will be available in both cities today, while regular cards will go on sale next week, the two sponsoring companies announced yesterday.
Co-developed by Octopus and its Shenzhen counterpart, Shenzhen Tong, the card can be used on public transport and in shops but does not support features such as automatic topping up from users' credit cards.
The launch follows the release in July of the Octopus-Lingnan Pass, which can be used in Hong Kong and 16 cities in Guangdong. Both cards have two "e-purses", allowing users to top up with Hong Kong dollars in the city and yuan across the border.
The Hu Tong Xing's release begins today with the sale of 3,800 commemorative versions, for HK$298 each, available at 26 MTR stations. The regular cards go on sale at all stations next week, for HK$98. Those prices do not include any value in the cards, which are not refundable.
Lin Maode, the president of Shenzhen Tong, said the companies were looking at merging the three cards - Octopus, Lingnan Pass and Shenzhen Tong - but had met with technical issues.
Octopus Holdings' chief executive, Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong, said they would like to launch the card and let commuters try it out first before adding more features, such as allowing users to top up both purses in either city. Asked if the card was meant to assist the relaxation of entry-permit rules in Shenzhen, Cheung said the companies had talked about the card "for a long time". "It's unrelated… but we did expect more people to cross the border every day," he said.
About 10,000 Octopus-Lingnan Pass cards have been sold in Hong Kong, Octopus said.
Dr Hung Wing-tat, a transport analyst at Polytechnic University, said the card would be convenient for those who travelled frequently between the cities. "One at least does not have to wait until arriving at the city to buy a card," he said. Resolving the technical issues to add new features to the cards should be easy, he said.