The Telangana government is planning to introduce a common mobility card enabling citizens to travel across multiple modes of both public and private transport systems, like rental cabs, for commuters in Hyderabad and across the state. The concept card comprises the usage of a contact and Quick Response (QR) code based card, which will allow people to use it on any mode of public transport.

“The Hyderabad metro rail already has a contact-based card which people can use. Our question was whether the Telangana State Road transport Corporation (TSRTC) can accept that too. So then the government eventually thought that it should create a card that will work with all modes of transport, and can also act as a payment card. As of now, we are in the process of issuing tenders. The project will materialize in a few months that is done," said a senior official from the Telangana Information Technology department, who did not want to be quoted.

He added that the concept is on the lines of the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) idea with regard to public transport that the government of India (GOI) has been pushing from some years. “The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) allows for cards to be either stored value cards and debit/credit cards. For example, (Hyderabad) metro cards fall under the former category, but the GOI wanted these mobility cards to have both types of payment modes. Hence the concept we came up with is also future proof," the official explained.

Under the Telangana’s proposed common mobility card, citizens will be able to use the card to travel in the Hyderabad metro rail, state buses and even private transportation (cabs) across the state. The TSRCT buses are expected to be equipped with point of service (PoS) machines to enable a tap-and-go method of payment as well, and the cards will also have a two-factor authentication to go along with the QR code with respect to private players. “It will be done following Reserve bank of India guidelines," the official mentioned.

Moreover, the state government is also pushing for the cards to be issued at no cost to users, with the caveat that they top it up with a nominal minimum amount while acquiring it. The card however will not include the Multi Modal Transport System (MMTS) which is operated in and around Hyderabad by the South Central Railways (SCR), the official informed. “Once the tender is issued to a company, the project will be ready in 3 to 4 months. It should be ready by the end of this year," he added.

Activists however remained skeptical about the concept. “The proposal for a national common mobility card has been around since 2005. But every time a standard is agreed upon, newer standards are explored. A common mobility card may not be a reality unless it becomes a full-time payment card for all purposes, which is unlikely with current RBI rules," said Hyderabad-based independent researcher who works on data and the internet.