The new Metro Transit application allows the payment of fares with smartphones

Starting Thursday, Metro Transit riders will be able to use their smartphones to pay for bus and train tickets.

Train and bus riders who download the Metro Transit app from Google Play or Apple iTunes App Store will also be able to access schedules and route maps, plan their trips, and get arrival and departure times for buses and trains. trains in real time.

Customers can use credit cards or funds deposited into a PayPal account to purchase electronic tickets which they can display on their phone and show a bus driver or police officer checking fares on the blue line, the line green or the Northstar Commuter line they paid for their trip.

The application will not replace Go-To cards or Metropass, which are used by more than 55% of users. But it aims to make public transport a more convenient and attractive option for occasional passengers who cannot carry cash, visitors, and those who take a bus or train only when going to special events. such as Sunday’s Vikings-Lions game at US Bank Stadium, said Adam Mehl, marketing specialist.

“This gives access to the bus system to those who haven’t had it before,” said Mehl, who worked with Portland-based entrepreneur Moovel to develop the app. “We hope people will ride spontaneously. They’ll look at that and say, ‘I can catch it [the bus or train] here pay my ticket and get on. “

While the app will make paying fares easier, it won’t necessarily be cheaper. Initially, the app will only offer a weekday rate of $ 2.25 valid for trips between 2:00 a.m. on Monday and 6:30 p.m. on Friday and a weekend rate of $ 1.75 for trips made between 2:00 a.m. on Monday and 6:30 p.m. on Friday. trips between 6.30 p.m. on Friday and 2.00 a.m. on Monday. There is also a special youth and senior fare and an option to purchase a day pass, which allows unlimited rides from the time the $ 4.50 pass is purchased until at 2 a.m. the next day.

This differs from the current fare structure, where passengers pay $ 1.75 for all trips made on weekends and weekdays during off-peak periods and $ 2.25 during peak hours.

The app also requires a minimum purchase of $ 4.50 per transaction, the equivalent of two runs at regular price.

However, the app will be handy as it will make it easier for customers who cannot afford to put money on a prepaid card or who do not have a credit card that they can use to purchase tickets in. vending machines, Mehl said.

“We are trying to listen to the riders and make it easier for them,” said spokesperson Howie Padilla.

Application likely to grow

Metro Transit joins systems such as those in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Portland to provide telephone payment service. Currently, nearly three in four visits to Metro Transit’s websites come from mobile devices, and 16% of fares are purchased online.

Another benefit of the app, which has been in development for over a year and funded by a federal grant, is that it could speed up the boarding process by 3-6 seconds per passenger. It will also reduce the costs of processing cash tickets, which costs Metro Transit about 10% of what it takes at the box office, Mehl said.

Future editions of the app are on the drawing board and will allow riders to use their phones to explore carpooling options, report suspicious activity or request help by texting Metro Transit police.

With the deployment of the application, Metro Transit continues to integrate the technology into its system. Over the past year, Metro Transit has introduced a texting service that allows riders to enter their stop number and get real-time information on their bus’s arrival time. Instructions for using the service appear on signs that have been installed at nearly 5,000 bus stops and will eventually be extended to include all 13,000 system stops.

In September, riders used the Bus Stop ID program 47,800 times, up from 26,000 in August and 200 in June 2015, when the service debuted as part of the agency’s efforts to build better bus stops. .

“It’s about getting more relevant information to our customers at the bus stop level,” said Managing Director Brian Lamb. “It reinforces the fact that what customers really want is up-to-date, accurate information on when their particular service is coming. “

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