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SXSW taps in-app mobile ticketing and fares for streamlined transit

Guests planning to attend the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX, this year will be able to leverage a mobile application featuring mobile ticketing and purchase of rail and bus fares, allowing for streamlined public transit and potentially becoming a game-changer for how mobile is used during large-scale events.

Festival attendees can use the RideScout app’s new version to better navigate the mass transit system and receive quick access to real-time departures and local information. The capability to purchase rail and bus fares for Capital Metro within the app will also save consumers time and hassle, and may help drive the mobile ticketing sector even further this year.

“It’s going to allow people who don’t live in Austin to instantly be a local and ride like a local,” said Joseph Kopser, CEO of RideScout, Austin, TX. “There are so many thousands of people that descend to Austin. They’ll be able to navigate very quickly.

“Now that we have unveiled real-time bus information and mobile ticketing, you don’t have to worry about the fare cost,” he said. “You can move in and out of the downtown area seamlessly.”

Search capabilities
RideScout provides GPS-based search functions that allow Austin residents or visitors to easily pull up relevant transit information and purchase or view fares. The app partnered with Bytemark and Capital Metro to augment the functionality via Bytemark’s open platform in time for the SXSW Festival, which is taking place from Mar. 13 to Mar. 22 in Austin, Texas.

This will enable attendees to efficiently plan their travel routes and ticket purchases, providing for a hassle-free experience at the festival.

Users can pull up the RideScout app, which is available for iOS and Android platforms, and view the most optimal bus or rail line options based on their circumstances. It automatically displays which daily or monthly pass is necessary for the trip, with levels including local, premium and commuter.

Customers will also appreciate the ability to receive real-time departure updates, thanks to GPS devices located inside the trains and buses.

The RideScout app features a “Switch Modes” function that enables consumers to locate other transportation options should public transit be overcrowded or delayed. Users can now look for rideshare, taxi or biking transportation within the app.

In-app payments
The mobile fare feature is likely to prompt other app developers to jump on the hot trend of offering mobile ticketing for transit options. To use RideScout’s fare functionality, users must search for their specific destination within the app and view details for Capital Metro.

They may then click “Buy Daily Pass” to get automatically redirected to the Capital Metro’s app, where they will be able to purchase a pass best suited to their travel plans.

South by Southwest has also been ramping up its mobile strategy by leveraging more than 1,000 Gimbal beacons with Apple’s technology to deliver social networking features to attendees at the festival (see story).

“We’re the first third-party app to use existing city fare structure and basically sell it as a new retail outlet,” Mr. Kopser said. “All cities are recognizing that to make transit more accessible, they’ve got to move past standard cards and cash systems.

“As people are becoming more and more comfortable with their smartphones, fewer people are carrying cash. The transit industry is learning from that.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York