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!