Go pass

Public transit gets on the bus with smartphone ticketing

Municipal transportation authorities around the country are adding pay-by-phone options for riders, with the Dallas/Fort Worth area the latest region to offer customers the ability to buy commuter rail and bus tickets via their smartphones.

DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) recently rolled out its GoPass app, which can also be used with its partner agencies — the Fort Worth T and the Denton County DCTA.

GoPass, developed with the Danish company Unwire, also contains a trip-planning tool powered by Google Transit. Customers can access rider alerts and schedule information, check real-time bus and train arrivals and find information about transit-accessible activities and events. Unwire creates cloud-based mobile payment, mobile ticketing and SMS solutions.

The announcement came only a few weeks after Portland, Ore.’s public transportation agency, TriMet, announced its mobile ticketing app, TriMet Tickets, which can be used for both buses and trains. 

TriMet plans to move to an all-electronic fare collection system by 2015, even for riders without smartphones, Wired reported. Wired also said TriMet is the first transit authority that lets customers use mobile payments for any mode of public transit, including streetcar, bus, light rail and suburban commuter rail.

TriMet partnered with local software developer GlobeSherpa to create the app and paid no upfront costs to do so, TriMet said.

Last November, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) became the first public transportation network in the nation to make smartphone ticket purchases available to customers.  MBTA’s mTicket system includes customer-facing apps for both iOS and Android phones, conductor validation apps for staff, a management console, secure payment integration and a cloud-based back-end for customer service and support, according to the Mass Innovation Blog. MBTA’s mTicket can be used for both commuter rail and ferry transportation across the state. Sixteen percent of all tickets are now purchased using MBTA’s mobile app.

In July, Wired reported that analysts at Juniper Research, a UK-based consulting firm, predict that mobile ticketing across all forms of transit will triple in the next five years, with that growth being led by the local public transit sector and much of it being in the United States. 

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.


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