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For more than a century, the Paris metro has used rectangular cardboard tickets. Now they're being phased out, as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Ah, the Paris metro - the accordionist playing for small change in your car, those ubiquitous little tickets with the magnetic strip down the back. But in the next two years, the tickets will be completely phased out. Laurent Probst is the director of Ile-de-France Mobilites, which oversees ticketing. He says they are launching several new products that you won't have to insert into the turnstile.
LAURENT PROBST: So the first one that is launched today is a contactless card on which you can load 20 tickets.
BEARDSLEY: And starting in September, passengers will be able to use their Samsung smartphone to put more money on their card. Probst says they're still negotiating with iPhone and Huawei. A major problem with the ticket, says Probst, is they demagnetize in people's pockets or purses.
MONICA CHERRIER: Oh, yeah, demagnetize, yeah, sure. They just changed them (laughter). You know not to put them next to your phone and not to put them with your coins. It's OK.
BEARDSLEY: That's Monica Cherrier, an Australian living in Paris. She says there are problems with any system, and she likes the old ticket style.
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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking French).
BEARDSLEY: The new cards are based on the London Tube's Oyster card. But the Paris metro, at $1.70 a ride, is much cheaper than London's Tube. Still, Parisian Beatrice Garcia says this change is long overdue.
BEATRICE GARCIA: In France, we're 10 years behind with these tickets. Having paper tickets in a digital world is a little bit ridiculous.
BEARDSLEY: The new system will also save the environment 550 million little rectangular pieces of trash every year. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.