Apps Helping to Enhance Riders' Experience

Posted on May 22, 2013 by Nicole Schlosser, Senior Editor - Also by this author

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GCRTA’s iWatch app is a safety tool that lets customers anonymously report crimes and complaints.
GCRTA’s iWatch app is a safety tool that lets customers anonymously report crimes and complaints.
Mobile ticketing

Buying and using fares has also gotten easier with apps — some new and others in the works — from a handful of transit systems.

MBTA’s mobile ticketing platform for commuter rail riders, mTicket, created with transit mobile ticketing supplier Masabi, lets customers buy and display rail tickets and passes using the MBTA mTicket app for iPhone and Android, and soon, BlackBerry devices. The tickets are displayed on the phone’s screen as an encrypted barcode and as a human-readable ticket. The app is available in the Apple App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android devices.

Customers are able to purchase passes from their phones for both the commuter rail and ferry service anytime, anywhere. They also are able to use their passes from their phones, eliminating a significant amount of waste from paper ticketing.

By the beginning of this year, the app reached $1 million in sales. It was introduced system-wide in November 2012.

Almost 50,000 unique transactions have taken place and that number is expected to grow as adoption increases and customers utilize the convenience of the mTicket for their daily commutes or weekend excursions.

New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) also recently introduced a mobile ticketing pilot program to Pascack Valley Rail Line customers traveling between Penn Station New York and the Meadowlands Rail Station for special events, letting them use their smartphones to purchase one-way tickets and monthly passes at any time.

The app, MyTix, allows customers to purchase one-way tickets and monthly passes securely on their mobile devices.

MyTix became available in April for free download on any Web-enabled iOS or Android operating system, via the App Store and the Google Play Store. The app was designed with input from customer focus groups, as well as NJ Transit rail employees and customer service staff.

NJ Transit is offering the mobile ticketing option as a pilot program to test its functionality and determine the feasibility of expanding it to include other rail lines.

Additionally, Portland, Ore.-based TriMet is set to begin testing its new TriMet Tickets mobile ticketing app. The app will allow riders to conveniently buy and use fares from their smartphones. More than 1,500 people applied to beta test the app. The test was designed by local software company GlobeSherpa.

Bus, MAX and WES commuter rail riders, using an iPhone or Android phone, can download the free app, register a debit or credit card in the secure system, and purchase tickets and passes instantly. The tickets will have a combination of visually authenticated elements, including a day-code, time and date stamp, and dynamic animation to provide security.

Crowd-sourced info
To help riders choose the fastest or least-crowded routes, some apps are available with crowd-sourced information. Riders contribute details about how full trains or buses are, delays, and Wi-Fi service.

In April, New York City-based navigation service HopStop launched HopStop Live! — a free, real-time social transit app that allows public transportation riders to contribute, receive and share real-time information about transit systems.

The app provides door-to-door walking and transit directions, schedules and officially licensed transit maps, and real-time crowd-sourced information from fellow transit riders.

The service benefits from two million monthly active users. In turn, it enables riders to enhance the available information from transit systems, acting as “ears to the ground,” especially in periods of disruption caused by unforeseen incidents.

The new service will launch exclusively on the iPhone platform with other platforms, such as iPad and Google Play, to follow in subsequent releases. The real-time transit service supports, across seven countries, 700 transit agencies, including New York MTA, St. Louis Metro and Minneapolis’ Metro Transit.

Israel-based Moovit’s free crowd-sourced transit app for iOS and Android also allows users to anonymously contribute information about available seats, delays, cleanliness, and support for Wi-Fi and handicapped riders.

The app was downloaded 400,000 times as of January, AllThingsD.com reported. Two months ago, Moovit added support for cities around the world.

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out, "Passengers Seek More Ways to Pay Fares."

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