ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Contest inspiration: fare card names from other places

In the naming contest post from last week, Chris passed on this handy list of fare card names from other places! I took a look through the list and highlighted names with interesting backstories, in case they might inspire winning contest entries…

Card Place Name explanation
Oyster London, UK Chosen as a fresh approach, unrelated to transit. The word Oyster had connotations of security and value.
Octopus Hong Kong Octopus references number 8 which is very lucky in Asian cultures. 8 also means “many” and “reaching everywhere.”
Myki Melbourne, Australia Sounds like “my key” to represent having a key for a new lifestyle, and also makes the card a character (“Mikey”). (Explanation found here!)
Clipper San Francisco Named after Clipper ships: the fastest mode of transportation during the Gold Rush. This card used to be called the TransLink card!
CharlieCard Boston, Massachusetts The CharlieCard is named after a fictional character in a folk music song often called “Charlie on the MTA”, which concerns a man trapped forever on the Boston subway system (then known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority, or MTA) because he can’t pay the 5-cent surcharge required to leave the train.
ORCA Seattle ORCA (“One Regional Card for All”) Card
Suica Tokyo (Japan Rail) Stands for “Super Urban Intelligent Card”, and is also a pun on the Japanese word for watermelon. As well, Sui Sui means smooth and Ka is an abbreviation for card.
Sugoca Japan (Fukuoka prefecture) The name is an acronym of “Smart Urban GOing CArd”, while sugoka (凄か?) in the local Kyūshū dialect means “great”.
NicePass Japan (Entetsu Railway) The name is an acronym of New Intelligence Card of Entetsu Personal and Smart System.

From this I detect some general strategies:

  • Pick a name of a sea creature with useful alternate meanings
  • Pick a word not generally related to transit that gives the card some human features
  • Acronyms: the more complex, the better.
  • Puns, homonyms, and double meanings! The more the merrier!

Also, to be honest, my favourites are the non-acronym, non-punny, unrelated to transit names. Oyster! Myki! There’s something kind of bold about choosing a name like that and sticking with it. Enter the contest!


  • By Sewing, October 18, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    If the Tokyo card’s name is a pun on the Japanese word for “watermelon” and also stands for “smooth card,” what on earth does a penguin have to do with all that? (I ask rhetorically…just wondering aloud.)

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, October 18, 2010 @ 10:22 am

    Sewing: I don’t know, but a quick Google search reveals that there’s a ton of merch available for the Suica penguin! Here’s one link:

  • By David Arthur, October 18, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

    I think I prefer the simple ones: SL in Stockholm, for example, call theirs simply ‘SL Access’. When you’re replacing the old ticketing system rather than marketing a new competitor (like the Oyster card still is, and Toronto’s Presto will probably be for a long time) you don’t really need a special brand identity for the card itself.

  • By Phil, October 18, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    Montreal’s Opus card is also a pun:
    As in the Latin “Magnum opus” but it also sounds like “carte à puce” which is the French way of referring to a card with a chips in it.

  • By mark, October 18, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    Toronto’s is Presto…

  • By ericmk, October 18, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

    In Washington DC, they have the SmarTrip. Not very creative, but thought I would throw that out there! Also, the MTA (Maryland Transit Administration) has the CharmCard. So, names with no spaces between words, but with capital letters seem to be popular, too. (Like NicePass and CharlieCard in Chris’ list)

  • By emily, October 18, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

    Question for Jhenifer: is there a limit on how many names you can enter for the contest?


  • By 4nth0ny, October 18, 2010 @ 11:24 pm

    Can you enter more than once if you have two different answers

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, October 19, 2010 @ 9:30 am

    emily, 4nthony: There’s no limit on how many names you can enter for the contest. You can enter as many times as you like!

  • By Ric, October 19, 2010 @ 10:38 am

    Can we enter a name in the contest that’s already in use?

  • By Elfren Ordanza, October 21, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    I don’t think we can enter a name that is already in use.

  • By Nathan, November 2, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

    Yokohama, part of greater Tokyo, implemented their own called “Pasmo” and it is now totally inter-changeable with the Suica right across Tokyo. I like it because it encourages people to use it “mo” (more) -> Pass + More

    That is why I entered “RideMo” -> Ride + More

Other Links to this Post

  1. Tweets that mention The Buzzer blog » Contest inspiration: fare card names from other places -- — October 18, 2010 @ 8:29 am

  2. The Buzzer blog » Contest inspiration: the 10 most entered names in the contest so far — November 2, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  3. The Buzzer blog » Farecard naming contest: last day to enter! — November 8, 2010 @ 8:02 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.