Category Archives: Trip Tools

One step closer to mobile ticketing

intro-(1)Heads up: Starting today, you may see riders flashing their smartphones instead of tickets as they board the bus. It’s OK, they’re not freeloaders… They’re testing a new smartphone app that is about to make things easier and more convenient for tens of thousands of TriMet riders.

Today, we released a test version of our forthcoming mobile ticketing smartphone app to around 150 riders as part of a month-long beta test.

We recruited for beta testers back in March, and more than 1,500 people applied. (To keep the test manageable, we unfortunately had to narrow it down to 150, but we were thrilled with the response!)

We’re already seeing some great feedback from riders as they experience the process of buying and using TriMet fares instantly on their phone for the first time. These testers are vital to the success of the app, as they will help us work out the kinks and make it as easy-to-use as possible before we release it to all riders later this summer.

TriMet is the first U.S. transit agency to offer a mobile ticketing app for use systemwide on both buses and trains. iPhone and Android users can just download the free app, register a debit or credit card in the secure system, and purchase tickets and passes instantly–anywhere and at any time.

At least half of our riders have smartphones, so for many this will be a welcome alternative to ticket machines and waiting in lines!

We partnered with the local startup GlobeSherpa to develop the new app, which will be more cost-effective for us than traditional paper ticketing in the long run. 

Don’t worry, we’re not getting rid of paper tickets any time soon. But mobile ticketing is an important first step toward an electronic fare collection system, which we expect to begin testing around 2015. Eventually, you will be able to choose among smartcards, debit/credit cards, smartphones with near-field communication, and mobile ticketing, to pay your fare. Stay tuned!

Learn more about the mobile ticketing app and sign up for email updates

Dave Whipple

I'm TriMet’s manager of marketing and rider communications. I oversee the agency's web and mobile initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.

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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!

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.

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Announcing the Tour PDX App Contest winners

Tour PDX App Contest logoBibiana McHugh is TriMet’s IT Manager of Geographic Information Systems and Location-Based Services.

This post was updated April 16, 2012.

Last Thursday, I was privileged to announce the grand-prize winner and runner-up of the Tour PDX App Contest at Ignite SAO at the Alberta Rose Theater in NE Portland.

TriMet, the City of Portland and Travel Portland sponsored the contest to solicit applications for the web and mobile devices that make it easy for visitors to get to the many great attractions the Portland metro area offers, using TriMet’s open data and City of Portland’s open data. We were looking for apps that would keep visitors talking about how easy it is to get around here—an app that would keep them coming back to the Portland metro area again and again.

Grand prize winner: Transit Board Hotel

We awarded the grand prize to Chris Smith and Matt Conway of Portland Transport for their submission, Transit Board Hotel, an application for the Transit Appliance platform. It is designed to be displayed on large-screen TVs in hotel lobbies, airport terminals and other locations where travelers may be. It provides suggestions for destinations in Portland (complete with pictures) and tells travelers how to get to each destination using TriMet. The entire experience can be transferred to a user’s smartphone by way of a companion mobile app.

Runner-up: SeatMate

Edwin Knuth, a web developer specializing in scientific and geographic applications, submitted the runner-up. His application, SeatMate, is a mobile web app that allows transit riders to interact with other passengers on their bus or MAX through a real-time chat.

In a few weeks, we’ll be unveiling links to the applications and adding them to the TriMet App Center. In the meanwhile, congratulations again to our winners!

TALK ABOUT IT: Discuss this post on Facebook

 

Update April 16, 2012: Transit Board Hotel and SeatMate are now available in the TriMet App Center.

Bibiana McHugh

I have worked in TriMet’s Information Technology Department since 1997 and currently lead a team of innovative web developers and analysts as the IT Manager of Geographic Information Systems and Location-Based Services. I lead several open data and open source software initiatives including opentripplanner.org, maps.trimet.org, rtp.trimet.org, developer.trimet.org, trimet.org/apps. After initiating collaboration with Google for the first release of Google Transit, I helped pioneer the now worldwide standard General Transit Feed Spec (GTFS). I received my degree in Geography from the University of Kansas.

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“QR codes” coming to stops and stations

An example of a QR code at a shelter.

Jeremy Ferguson is TriMet’s Customer Information Manager.

Soon, riders with smartphones will have one more way to get real-time arrival information when they’re out and about.

Last fall, we began posting barcodes (known as “QR” or “Quick Response” codes) at bus stops and rail stations.

If you have an internet-enabled smartphone, you can scan these codes to get real-time arrival information, schedules and an area map. You just need to install a free QR code reader app.

Our customer information team is rolling out QR codes gradually, at bus stops with shelters first. By September, all bus shelters with printed schedules will have them, as well as all MAX and WES stations.

Of course, you can always use m.trimet.org, our mobile website, to get real-time service information. Just like many of the apps in the TriMet App Center, it finds your current location automatically using your phone’s GPS feature. For everyone else with regular phones, you can call or text.

If you use QR codes at your stop or station, we want to know what you think and how it’s working for you. Email us at mobile@trimet.org with your feedback.

DISCUSS THIS ON FACEBOOK: Do you use QR codes? Will you use them to get arrival information?

Jeremy Ferguson

I work in TriMet’s marketing department managing on-street customer information. I oversee the production and distribution of brochures and schedules, customer information displays at stops and stations, and electronic information display content.

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Next-generation Trip Planner combines transit, walking and biking

Preview the new Portland Regional Trip Planner
Bibiana McHugh is TriMet’s IT Manager of Geographic Information Systems and Location-Based Services.

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of delivering the keynote at the Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit at PSU, where I announced the beta release of TriMet’s new Portland Regional Trip Planner, the first of its kind for a U.S. transit agency.

What makes this Trip Planner different? For the first time, you can get transit, biking and walking directions in a single itinerary—something not even Google Maps does at this time. So not only is it easier to plan multimodal trips, you can get more efficient routes, which cuts down on your travel time.

Here’s what you can do with it:

  • Plan trips combining transit, biking and walking, in a single itinerary
  • Specify your biking preferences for quickest, flattest or safest routes
  • View an elevation chart of your trip
  • View car-sharing locations, so you can easily plan transit or bike trips to Zipcars
  • View up-to-date bike routes and walking paths

The app uses OpenStreetMap, a wiki-like map, to keep bike routes and walking paths up-to-date. It also allows for future inclusion of other transit systems, such as C-TRAN and SMART. Even better, it was built from the ground up with open-source software, which means it was less expensive to develop, and the technology can be used by other agencies worldwide.

This project has been two years in the making, and I’m delighted to finally be able to share it with our riders. It started in 2009, when we partnerned with non-profit OpenPlans and assembled a team of talented developers from around the world to help out. Metro provided funding through its Regional Travel Options grant program.

You can preview the new Trip Planner at rtp.trimet.org. (It’s in beta, which means we’re testing it out with users for a few months. Eventually, it will replace the map trip planner at trimet.org.)

I’m hopeful that over time, this app will help encourage more people to leave their cars at home and bike or walk part or all of the way instead. (It’s already got people talking, and the project was even featured on the White House blog.)

WEIGH IN ON FACEBOOK: Will TriMet’s new Trip Planner motivate you to take more bike/transit trips?

Bibiana McHugh

I have worked in TriMet’s Information Technology Department since 1997 and currently lead a team of innovative web developers and analysts as the IT Manager of Geographic Information Systems and Location-Based Services. I lead several open data and open source software initiatives including opentripplanner.org, maps.trimet.org, rtp.trimet.org, developer.trimet.org, trimet.org/apps. After initiating collaboration with Google for the first release of Google Transit, I helped pioneer the now worldwide standard General Transit Feed Spec (GTFS). I received my degree in Geography from the University of Kansas.

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6 new apps in the TriMet App Center

A third-party TriMet mobile app on an iPhoneThanks to our fabulous developer community, six new transit apps have been added to the TriMet App Center:

  • allSchedules for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Commute for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • MyMet for web browsers and various mobile devices
  • RealTime Transit for Windows Phone 7
  • Transit Appliance for any monitor or TV with a VGA, DVI or HDMI input
  • TransitTimes Portland for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

These are just a few of the free and commercial applications available from third-party developers using TriMet’s open data.

Check out all the apps in the TriMet App Center

Dave Whipple

I'm TriMet’s manager of marketing and rider communications. I oversee the agency's web and mobile initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.

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Smart transit tools for your smartphone

TriMet's mobile websiteIf you use a smartphone (such as BlackBerry®, iPhone® or Android®), you can access TriMet tools and information quickly and easily at m.trimet.org.

Our mobile-friendly site loads fast and is easy to navigate, with the most popular rider tools from trimet.org, such as TransitTracker arrival times, Trip Planner, Service Alerts, route and system maps and more.

It’s easy: Point your mobile browser to m.trimet.org and bookmark it for quick and easy access.

Dave Whipple

I'm TriMet’s manager of marketing and rider communications. I oversee the agency's web and mobile initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.

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