New Delhi, Nov. 30: Discard tickets, get a mobility card.
After brainstorming for the past couple of years, the urban development ministry is finally ready with the blueprint for a common mobility card, a rechargeable plastic that will spare commuters the hassle of queuing up for paper tickets.
In laymans terms, it is a card that can be used on all modes of transport and across all major cities in India. All you have to do is swipe and get on.
On December 6, urban development minister Kamal Nath will release a prototype of the card, which has been designed on the lines of Metro smart cards with the benefits of an ATM card.
The ministry plans to introduce the cards on local trains, too. The cards can also be used to pay parking fees and toll taxes.
The biggest advantage of the card is that it will provide a readymade data of commuters and their travel patterns, a ministry official said.
Along with the prototype, Nath will also release specifications for the card, though the schemes implementation will be in the hands of state governments. States will have to follow these specifications to get financial assistance from the Centre.
According to the plan, card users will have to buy the plastic by paying a specified amount, just like Metro smart cards, swipe in and swipe out after every journey and buy recharge coupons when the balance falls below the minimum required. The coupons will be available at any shop.
A Calcutta-based cardholder can use the same plastic in other cities like Delhi and Mumbai, though the tariff may not be the same across all states.
To begin with, the plan is to introduce the cards on government buses and Metros, before integrating other modes of transport like autos and taxis.
The ministry official said the cards would help lower ticket costs as they would save on paper and printing. But they will not just lower the cost of tickets, the cards will also reduce the possibility of fudging the number of ticket sales. There will be a clear audit trail, the official added.
Many cities — Patna is one of them — have taken baby steps towards plastic travel by announcing an automatic fare collection system on state-run buses. Delhi has already introduced electronic ticketing system in buses.
An empowered committee headed by former cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar had in April given the go-ahead to introduce the mobility cards. Before drafting the final blueprint, the ministry had consulted all states, the chairperson of the railway board and chief of Metro corporations. They were asked to come up with suggestions on the draft proposal.
The UTI Infrastructure Technology and Services Limited, a public sector company, will be the technology integrator for the project.