TriMet, DART to debut mobile ticketing in 2013

Posted on October 9, 2012

Portland, Ore.-based TriMet signed a contract with local software company GlobeSherpa to pilot the agency’s mobile ticket system for its buses, MAX light rail and WES Commuter Rail. GlobeSherpa’s mobile ticketing system, TransitSherpa, will allow riders to buy and use tickets to ride TriMet from their smartphones.

TriMet is among a handful of transit agencies from around the country that are testing mobile ticketing, including Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).
TriMet has been an innovator in the field of mobile technology and this is the first step toward moving to electronic fares.

“Whenever we can, we look for innovations to make it easier for our customers to ride our system,” said TriMet GM Neil McFarlane. “This will truly be a convenient and faster option for our riders to buy and use tickets. It’s also exciting to be working with a local firm on this endeavor.”

Mobile ticketing benefits include:

•    Purchasing fares anytime, anywhere, and the system will also allow multiple tickets to be purchased with just one transaction

•    a paperless fare system that doesn’t require cash handling

•    faster fare purchasing and easier fare inspection

•    added convenience at minimal cost since it requires no capital and equipment investment by TriMet

Once the TransitSherpa application is available, riders will be able to download a free app for iPhone or Android mobile phones and register a debit/credit card on a secure system. TransitSherpa tickets use a combination of visually authenticated elements including a day-code, time and date stamp, and dynamic animation to provide an authentic format. Learn more about how the mobile ticketing will work here.

TriMet and GlobeSherpa will launch an Alpha test of the platform through December, with a Beta test expected to begin in January and a full public launch in the spring 2013. In mid-December, TriMet will recruit a cross section of riders to participate in the Beta test.

Meanwhile, new mobile ticketing technology arriving next year will give DART customers a way to bypass long lines at vending machines during big events, buy passes for several riders at once, and carry a ticket in their smartphones.

Coming in spring 2013, this new mobile ticketing tool, one of a handful among U.S. transit agencies, is being developed by Unwire. The Danish company has extensive experience in mobile ticketing for transit agencies, including the systems in Stockholm and Copenhagen, Denmark. DART will be its first U.S. client. The agency’s board of directors awarded the nearly $1.5 million contract in late September.

Customers from the T in Fort Worth and the Denton County Transportation Authority will have access to the same technology when it launches, maintaining a seamless regional transit fare system.
Customers will be able to use credit cards to purchase any of the ticket types used by the transit agencies. They’ll simply register a credit card once and purchase whatever pass they need when they need with just a few touches on their smartphone screen.

The phone will display both an actual ticket and a QR code that can be scanned by DART police and fare enforcement officers to help conduct quick fare inspections. Customers ultimately will be able to purchase other products, such as an event pass or a parking pass, providing even greater convenience and value.

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