“You have to show the value of the technology, and not just to the metro or railroad operator but also to the passenger.”
News from Toronto, where Metrolinx, the regional public transportation provider has confirmed its mobile ticketing solution for the soon to be launched, Union Pearson (UP) Express. Built by New York City start-up Bytemark, it will give UP Express riders the ability to buy and store rail tickets on their smartphones and support ticket sales both online and onboard. Today SmartRail World finds out more about the system and speaks exclusively to Michah Bergdale, CEO of Bytemark about the continuing development of this technology within transit.
After downloading the free app to their smartphone, riders can purchase e-tickets that generate custom 2D barcodes that can be stored on their phone. Conductors will be able to sell, print and validate tickets on-board using the 120+ handheld devices Bytemark will deploy.
I asked Micah about how they came to provide Union Pearson with such a solution; “We’ve been working in transit since 2012 when we began providing it to NY Waterway (see image above), a ferry service in New York which now sees 40% of its passengers using mobile ticketing. Since then we’ve developed mobile offerings with the South Shore Line in Northern Indiana and Chicago and now Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority (CapMetro) in Austin and onwards into Canada. It’s important to tailor each solution to the agency but all offer as the core service the ability to buy and use tickets on your phone, plan trips, view routes and schedules, and keep up with the latest travel advisories and offers.”
The Union Pearson Express is a $456 million rail link project under construction in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Running between Canada's two busiest transportation hubs: Union Station in Downtown Toronto, and Toronto Pearson International Airport, it will be operational in time for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. Kathy Haley, President of Union Express, states that the line is “more than transporting passengers swiftly and efficiently, or relieving traffic congestion and commuter headaches. It’s about who we are as a city and as a province. It’s about comfort, convenience, and a memorable guest experience.” Once launched an estimated 5,000 passengers a day will use the service.
With the growth of mobile ticketing solutions gathering pace, I asked Micah what advice he would give those considering deploying one; “I think you have to show the value of the technology, and not just to the metro or railroad operator but also to the passenger. There has to be an incentive to pull out the phone rather than a card or cash. For the operator, a mobile system can lower costs, improve customer experience and deliver cross-promotional opportunities amongst other benefits. Whilst for the passenger the benefits of ease of purchase and avoiding lines becomes quickly apparent. And with every new technology we are see plenty of room for development and growth in each of these areas and more.”
As with any new technology, the launch of it is always crucial and, Micah again; “Education is very important. We’ve found one tool particularly useful, and that’s videos (see below for an example from Capital Metro in Texas) which can show in a visual way what the mobile ticket can do. Naturally the demographic use is skewed towards Millennials and those used to using their smartphone for payments but we’ve found that the longer the system is deployed, the more other demographics increasingly use it.”
The App is set to be released in Spring 2015, shortly before UP Express becomes operational, and will be the first mobile ticketing solution for the Toronto-area and Bytemark’s first mobile ticketing solution outside of the United States.