A single card, Gijon’s Citizen Card, allows Gijon's citizens to pay their bus fare, hire a bike and take out a library book. Today, 250,000 of Gijon’s citizens – 80% of the city’s population - carry this card, unlocking services and facilities across the city.
Gijon’s Citizen Card is an access and payment card for a wide range of services across the city. Developed in 2002, the scope of the card has continued to grow and it now provides cardholders with access to anything from electric vehicle sharing and public toilets to libraries and sports facilities. Today, 80% of Gijon’s population holds a Citizen Card. The city has benefited from user data to identify patterns and changes in citizens’ behaviour, allowing it to develop public policies that more closely meet the needs of its citizens. The card continues to be an important factor for Gijon’s quality of life. It makes choosing healthier, greener options easier, such as hiring bicycles and using municipal sports facilities, and offers a ‘social bonus’ giving access to sports facilities to those who otherwise might not be able to.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/Citiesinaction_CitizenCard_Gijon.pdf
This project was awarded the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2013 in the following category: Smart governance. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
The Citizen Card was born out of a desire to develop an integrated identification and payment tool, making it easier for citizens to use and pay for everyday services like libraries, swimming pools, buses and parking. Launched in 2002, the card initially gave access to the most popular city services, including sports facilities and public transport. New services are continually being added and cardholders can now use it to rent a bike or to visit a museum.
Each card is unique to its user, which means it can be used to identify citizens eligible for discounts, such as the elderly, the disabled and young people. Users can easily recharge their cards at any of the municipal cashpoints around the city.
What’s more, the card has allowed the city to regulate traffic in its historic centre. Every evening, between 9pm and 7am the following morning, the area is restricted to incoming traffic, a move designed to minimise noise, deal with limited parking spaces and avoid damage to narrow city streets. Only residents can enter, and the Citizen Card makes it simple for the system to automatically recognise them.
Travelling by public transport is easier with the Citizen Card, too. The automated payment system simply deducts what users need to pay to use the service. This simplified payment system has the added bonus of making bus circulation faster.
There are also the free of charge ‘cyclocity’ bikes: cardholders can pick up and deposit a bike at any of the stations dotted around the city.
Financing and resources
The cards are free and available to anyone using Gijon’s public services, resident or not. As well as the convenience the card provides, there are also financial benefits for cardholders: a cardholder, for example, can use the public toilets for free, while a non cardholder must pay €0.30.
For the city, the cost is relatively low. Initially, the cards cost €2 each to produce, but that has since been reduced to €0.50.
In total, the city has invested €1,200,000 over 12 years, which works out at €100,000 a year for a target population of 300,000.
Results and impacts
The Citizen Card connects citizens directly with their city council. They can do this from home, using the ‘city council at home’ service, or via one of the ‘citizen cashpoints’, where they can pay their municipal charges directly. The information gathered from the usage of the cards gives the city useful feedback on the behaviour of its inhabitants. As a result, Gijon can design policies that better meet the needs of citizens. This ‘social bonus’, which gives reduced-rate access to public transport or sports facilities to citizens eligible for discounts, helps promote social inclusion in the city, allowing vulnerable groups to get out and about and enjoy the city’s services.
Lessons learned and transferability
Once the card is up and running it is a cost effective project, as new services can easily be added. There are now plans to integrate NFC (Near Field Communication) technology so the card can be used via a smartphone or tablet. The City of Gijon is also planning to include access to electrical vehicle charging points as part of the ‘smart city’ phase.
Gijon is working with other cities on ways to develop an interoperable payment system for public transport across different locations.
Cities in action - Gijon’s Citizen Card, Gijon fits in your pocket - EUROCITIES, May 2014.