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New Orleans, Chicago drive commuter convenience with mobile ticketing

Mobile ticketing for public transportation continues to gain steam, with New Orleans having recently launched a citywide program and Chicago dipping its toes in the water by letting commuter rail riders use tickets on their smartphones.

This week, riders of buses, ferries and streetcars in New Orleans can start using their smartphones to purchase, store and display tickets for immediate and future travel via an application. Chicago’s Ventra transportation card is reportedly getting a mobile app this week, enabling transit users to pay for tickets across a variety of public transportation modes but only user of the city’s Metra commuter rail able to use their phones as tickets.

“Riders simply visit the app store and download the app,” said Josh Robin, vice president, North America, at Masabi, which is powering the New Orleans solution.

“Once it’s on their phone they select their ticket and purchase using a credit or debit card,” he said. “Subsequent purchases take mere seconds as the app securely remembers payment details, with riders just needing to re-enter their cards CVV.”

Riding the mobile wave
Transdev, the private operating partner of New Orleans’ Regional Transit Authority, partnered with Masabi to leverage its JustRide platform to reduce the need for public transportation riders to wait in line for tickets at vending machines or ticket offices by enabling riders to buy tickets anywhere, anytime from their mobile phones.

The mobile ticketing solution is expected to not only be beneficial to residents but also to tourists by expanding ticketing options during major events in the city.

The app can be downloaded for free from Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Once installed, riders can securely purchase tickets from their smartphones using major credit or debit cards. The ticket will then be downloaded onto the smartphone and can be activated immediately or stored for future use.

Masabi’s JustRide platform is a cloud-based, end-to-end mobile ticketing and fare collection system that includes apps for ticket purchase, display and inspection as well as back-end infrastructure.

The platform has previously been deployed in Boston, Athens and London.

Public transportation
The Chicago Tribune recently reported that a Ventra app is expected to launch this week, enabling users to pay for fares and passes using their smartphones. Riders of the city’s Metra commuter rail will also be able to take advantage of mobile tickets, with other public transportation expected to be added.

The app’s launch reportedly comes after months of delays, during which employees of the city’s transit agency as well as volunteers worked out any glitches in the software.

The app will display users’ account balance and enable them to automatically replenish their accounts with a credit or debit card.

Users will also benefit from being able to view real-time train and bus arrival information as well as find nearby routes.

Mobile ticketing has not caught on in cities as quickly as some had expected, in part because of bureaucratic challenges involved with adopting a technology such as mobile, which has the potential to remake so many aspects of the customer journey.

The developments in New Orleans and Chicago point to the growing acceptance of mobile ticketing by municipalities, who see it as a way to drive convenience for users.

“New Orleans is joining the growing list of cities both in the US and globally that are adopting Masabi’s JustRide mobile ticketing platform,” Mr. Robin said. “The technology represents a huge leap forward for riders and agencies, making riding transit quicker and easier and removing the need to wait in line or fumbling for the right change.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York