Mobile ticketing is the first step toward electronic fare collection

Mobile ticket screenshots

With TriMet’s new mobile ticketing app, iPhone and Android users will be able to buy and use fares instantly on their phone.

by Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager

By now, you’ve probably heard that we’re working on a convenient new mobile ticketing option for our riders using smartphones. As early as summer 2013, iPhone and Android users will be able to purchase and use TriMet tickets and passes using a free app on their phone.

This is one of the top requests from our riders, and for good reason. These days, about half of us own a smartphone, and more people are using them to make purchases when they’re on the go. Mobile ticketing means you no longer have to keep track of paper tickets, count exact change or wait in line at a ticket machine.

The app lets you register your debit/credit card, buy and show your fare at the touch of a button, and store fares for future use.

We’re always looking for ways to improve the “transit experience,” and I know that simple conveniences like mobile ticketing make a big difference for our riders. The best part is, we’re able to provide this innovative service with no capital costs or investments in equipment.

TriMet is among a handful of transit agencies in the nation to pilot mobile ticketing on smartphones. It’s also exciting to be working with a local firm on this endeavor. The app is powered by GlobeSherpa, a Portland-based software company that specializes in mobile ticketing and payments.

But this is just the beginning. The mobile ticketing app will bring us one step closer to a state-of-the-art electronic fare collection system that will eventually provide all riders—not just those with smartphones—with easy and convenient ways to pay their fare.

It’s too soon to say what that might look like, but right now we’re exploring all the options, including smartcards, debit/credit cards, smartphones with near-field communication, and mobile ticketing. We’re hoping to deploy a pilot of the new electronic fare collection system along with the opening of the Portland-Milwaukie MAX line in 2015.

For the latest news on the mobile ticketing app and the other mobile services we offer (such as the 50+ transit apps in the TriMet App Center), I encourage you to sign up to receive updates by email. Later this fall, we’ll be asking riders to help us test the new app.

Needless to say, I’m excited about this new service and I’m confident that riders will find it to be a useful, easy-to-use tool. As always, we’ll be looking for your feedback and suggestions, and other ways we can make your transit experience better. Thank you for riding!

About Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager

As the General Manager of TriMet, I'm responsible for running the agency. I've been here at TriMet since 1991, when I started as project control director for the Westside light rail project. When I'm not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and riding the bus and MAX. Maybe I'll see you during my commute.