"Within this new transportation landscape, we are also seeing a trend toward private companies and the government sector working together to create more options and a seamless experience for riders. There is more collaboration, which leads to more innovation and stronger partnerships. This has also created a more open mobility ecosystem."
Ahead of SmartTransit LA, we sat down with Bonnie Crawford, VP of Sales and Client Services at moovel, for a quick chat about her job and the company's latest products.
Moovel is one of the many feature exhibitors in SmartTransit LA on October 28-30th, where they will be showcasing their new solutions and products both as speakers and on the exhibition room. Join us at LA for the full topic, and read about Bonnie and moovel below.
First off, a bit of background: How did you start your current career path, and what excites you the most about your position as VP of Sales and Client Services at Moovel?
I started my career in technology almost 20 years ago, and have always loved being close to the client. Whether that was working to internationalize new products at GE Security (where I earned my Six Sigma certification) or building a client services organization for an ERP software firm focused on Construction, I love improving the client experience through technology.
One of the places I was best able to do this was at a payments start-up that helped build and launch payment and loyalty programs for companies like Ticketmaster and Brinker restaurants. That payments experience and the years spent scaling client services organizations led me to moovel, where I now lead both the Client Services & Sales organizations. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with transit agencies all over the country to improve the customer experience, while working to grow ridership in a world with a myriad of mobility options.
It’s also been really rewarding to develop technology tools to help transit remain the backbone of our transportation ecosystem. Seeing the success that we have achieved with our transit agency clients when we work together to bring new technology to market gets us that much closer to our bigger mission of a world without traffic jams!
How has the transportation sector changed since you started working in it?
Mobile payment technology is now being used across a variety of industries, and some transit agencies are just catching up with the introduction of this technology into their apps. At moovel, we are really focused on bringing the latest innovations to our clients, and a great example would be our recent collaboration with TriMet, Apple, INIT, and Mastercard to bring the first transit fare card in North America to the Apple Wallet.
Riders expect to be able to travel easily within a city regardless of the app, payment type, agency, or vendor. Within this new transportation landscape, we are also seeing a trend toward private companies and the government sector working together to create more options and a seamless experience for riders. There is more collaboration, which leads to more innovation and stronger partnerships. This has also created a more open mobility ecosystem, giving more choice and access to riders, so they can determine what works best to meet their travel needs. What has become the norm wasn’t necessarily the case two or three years ago.
What industry challenges do you identify as the most pressing ones, and how is moovel tackling them?
Transit fare catalogs are extremely complex, as every transit agency has their own unique structure with specific pricing structures, fare types, and services. We believe that a universal ticketing system could help create a more unified experience for riders and public transit agencies. While this vision is still at the very early stages, we believe that a ticketing API will help create a more universal experience, bridging the transit journey from one city to another by easily integrating with other transportation and event-based apps.
This can benefit riders regardless of their destination, be it someone who is traveling to a major league sporting event, the work commuter, or a tourist who is looking to visit the Golden Gate bridge. They can book and pay for a public transit ticket within the app they are using. moovel is currently working with several partners to offer a solution that would give our transit agency clients the ability to leverage the user base of third party transportation, sports & events applications, and travel apps to sell digital transit tickets, thus creating a more holistic ecosystem.
Another way to improve the rider experience is to focus on rider loyalty and rewards programs that are connected to their communities through partnerships with local businesses. We recently launched a loyalty and rewards platform that gives transit agencies a simple way to integrate rewards, such as transportation credits into their ticketing platform that create a more connected ecosystem with transit at the center.
Are there any past projects in your life you're proud of? Are there any upcoming ones you're excited about?
I’m super proud of what we have achieved with our CharmPass program, the mobile solution for MDOT MTA in Baltimore. This was a great collaboration with the MDOT MTA team to bring our mobility platform to all of their services (bus, subway, light rail, and both commuter bus and commuter rail) while providing riders with a convenient and fast solution for travel throughout the region. The program also gave riders free transfers on local services, a first for MDOT MTA. We just celebrated our one year anniversary of the CharmPass program and have sold over 1.7 million tickets within the app, all while maintaining an average rating of 4.9/5 stars in the Apple Store.
A project that I’m looking forward to is the upcoming launch of our cash acceptance pilot. More than 50% of customers in the US still use cash to pay for their transit fares, according to the 2016 ACI Worldwide Mass Transit Payment Survey. We know that accepting cash is essential for any transit system to ensure equity and accessibility, and I’m really looking forward to partnering with a leading retail network to offer a cash acceptance solution within our mobile ticketing apps early next year.
What's the biggest professional challenge you've ever faced?
A recent challenge has been leading our sales organization through the evolving transportation landscape, while navigating the complex procurement process associated with government funding. Procurements are often structured for ongoing maintenance and operations, rather than a relationship based on innovation and a shared goal of growing ridership through expanded services. The ability to move with speed is super important.
While leading through this can be very challenging, we’ve been able to work with our transit agency partners to implement agile processes and pilots to test concepts quickly. Helping to evolve our organization and these processes to create scalable solutions for transit agencies has been tough, yet rewarding at the same time.
Finally, a question we ask all our interviewees: what's your favourite rail, car, or flight journey in the world, and why?
As an avid traveler who recently crossed the million miles flown threshold, my favorite flight is San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. Having lived and worked in Australia for many years, it feels like my second home.
My favorite rail journey is Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, which travels south from Portland to Los Angeles. It takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery, past Crater Lake and the California coast -- it’s very serene, and you meet lots of interesting people who love to use transit!
To meet Bonnie and other fantastic industry experts and decision makers, join us at SmartTransit LA 2019, on October 28-30th!