This month, Madrid's Metro network finally joined the 21st Century, with the new, electronic ticket system!
I have to say, I feel a little sad to see the end of the paper tickets. Being someone who likes old fashioned things, I found it quite charming and nostalgic to use the little traditional ticket punching method. I remember the introduction of the Oyster card in London sometime around 2004, so it's taken a surprisingly long time for Madrid to catch up.
But no more, the red, durable plastic of the future is here! Much more efficient than wasting all that paper, and quicker to swipe through the barrier, plus not so easy to lose. It's rechargeable, just like an Oyster card, but where it's superior over London's system is that you don't use it like a credit card, charging it with a random amount of money. In Madrid, you pay for one journey (zone A = 1.50€) , or a "bono" of 10 journeys (currently 12€). And nearly all of Madrid's metro stations bar the very furthest out and the airport are within Zone A. So it's very clear, simple and cheap.
With the Oyster card Pay-As-You-Go method, the cost of every journey varies depending on a)what zone you started in b) what zone you ended up in c) what other zones you may have travelled through, d) if it's peak journey time or not e) if you took a combination of different forms of transport and f) if you made enough journeys to convert into a day travelcard.
Consequently, I never know how much money I'm spending, or what one particular journey costs me (and who has time to go to the machines/online and look up your journey history?), and I always seem to be spending a fortune topping up my card every other day.
The tarjeta multi costs 2.50€, and if you're buying it with a tourist travelpass, it's "included in the price", which isn't exactly the same as saying "free" but maybe that means discounted, I don't know. But hey, an Oyster card requires a £5 deposit, which most people never bother to claim back.