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Smartcard to let you travel on train/bus in most Indian cities

Last updated on: December 1, 2011 16:29 IST

Soon city commuters will be able to use a single, rechargeable master mobility card to hop onto any metro, local train or government bus across all major Indian cities without the hassle of queuing up to buy paper tickets.

Come Tuesday, Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath will release a prototype of a master mobility smartcard that has been designed on the lines of Metro smartcards with the benefits of an ATM card.

He will also release specifications for the card and promises funds to States adopting the scheme. This would have just one condition: that these specifications are followed by the States.

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Smartcard to let you travel on train/bus in most Indian cities

Last updated on: December 1, 2011 16:29 IST

Thus, such a cardholder in Mumbai will be able to use the same plastic card while visiting, say, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru or Ahmedabad. The smartcard is so designed that it takes care of different tariffs applicable in different cities for different modes of public transport.

The card, which can be updated like a prepaid mobile phone card by buying recharge coupons from any shop, will subsequently integrate other modes of transport like auto-rickshaws and taxis, too, to end overcharging and the hassle of having the exact change for paying the fare.

It will also allow the cardholders to pay toll tax and parking fees.

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Smartcard to let you travel on train/bus in most Indian cities

Last updated on: December 1, 2011 16:29 IST

It is a first big gift to city people from Kamal Nath, who shifted to the urban development ministry as the Union minister in June this year from the high-profile road transport and highways ministry.

However, it will be entirely in the hands of the state governments to implement the scheme. Only to facilitate the States, Kamal Nath has selected the UTI Infrastructure Technology and Services Limited, a public sector company, to be the technology integrator for the project to ensure that the smartcards are usable anywhere in the country.

The cards would help lower ticket costs as they would save on paper and printing and also reduce the menace of fudging of the number of ticket sales since there will be a clear audit trail.

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Smartcard to let you travel on train/bus in most Indian cities

Last updated on: December 1, 2011 16:29 IST

Insiders say the scheme was in the making for years but Kamal Nath took special interest in it since these smartcards will be the best tool in the hands of the government to plan commuters' requirements as they will provide readymade data of their travel patterns.

It was an empowered committee headed by former Cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekhar which suggested the introduction of these mobility cards in April 2011.

Kamal Nath's ministry prepared the blueprint for the scheme after consulting all state governments as also chairpersons of the Railway Board and Metro corporations and heads of city bus corporations like DTC and BEST.