Everyone! This is the next app that Every Serious Transit Agency Needs to Implement ASAP. It could easily be as transformative as realtime information.
A while back, our Portland transit agency Tri-Met unveiled a mobile ticketing app, which my colleague Evan Landman reviewed here. It allows you to purchase tickets in bulk with a credit card and store them on your phone. When you need one, you push a button and a "ticket" appears on your phone, very much like an airline boarding pass. Right now in Portland, you just show that to the driver, but before long I expect we'll scan a barcode just as we do to board airplanes.
Our two fulltime staff and I are all occasional transit users, so not motivated to buy monthly passes, and all three of us can now report that we use transit more in Portland because we can use it spontaneously without worrying about whether we have $2.50 in cash. This not only reduces cash handling and thus speeds up boarding, it attracts more occasional riders!
And if you're a transit agency, you need to love occasional riders, not just regular ones. A vast number of citizens who find you occasionally useful, and whom you welcome with an easy boarding experience no matter how long it's been, can be a big part of your political base.
So congratulations to Capital Metro in Austin for rolling out a similar app. And if your transit agency doesn't offer this liberating tool, encourage them to develop it. It increases ridership, builds broader loyalty, and speeds up boarding. What's not to love?