Saturday , January 19, 2019

Eye on Transit: How Payment Convenience Could Boost Ridership; DART Updates Mobile App

It’s easy to see how convenience in the form of longer service hours and lower fares might increase ridership on public transportation systems, but new survey results show that mobile apps that combine various transit options, including payments, could also boost ridership.

London-based mass-transit software developer Masabi Ltd. recently released results of a Google Surveys poll of more than 1,000 U.S. residents about their transportation usage. The survey founded that public transit is “massively underused,” with 40% of respondents never using transit despite having access to it. 

Many transportation systems have reported ridership declines in the past year, a trend some blame on greater usage of ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft. The Masabi poll found that 35% of respondents are now combining ride sharing with public transit to reach a destination on at least an occasional basis, while 7% do so on at least a weekly basis. Some 19% of respondents use public transportation every week, with 9% now using ride sharing every week. And 9.2% of all respondents use ride sharing instead of public transit on at least a weekly basis.

Ride-share apps embed payment into their booking processes. A combination of transit and ride-share payments might help boost transit ridership, according to the Masabi results. “Up to a quarter of potential riders report that convenience features such as combining modes of transit through an app, mobile ticketing, and location tracking would cause, or already have caused them, to use public transit more often,” Masabi’s survey report says.

The report adds that “agencies can take a lesson from some of the convenient features that ride-sharing apps provide, like location tracking and seamless payment, and deploy them relatively easily on their own systems. Increasing ridership by boosting convenience would have a positive impact on street congestion, while ride sharing can serve to replace personal vehicles in the first/last mile, and in places underserved by public transit.”

Meanwhile,  the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on Monday unveiled its updated GoPass mobile app that now includes the ability of riders to add fare value their DART accounts by paying cash at retailers in the PayNearMe network. PayNearMe has more than 8,000 locations across the U.S., including 7-Eleven and Family Dollar stores, and ACE Cash Express outlets. 

DART riders present the clerk with a barcode generated by the app while paying with cash, and the value is then added to their account. The feature had been planned to go live last year, but was delayed because DART’s original app contractor was bought out, a DART spokesperson tells Digital Transactions News. The agency then hired Denmark-based developer Unwire.

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