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Metro and your smartphone

Nice.

HoustonMetro

As Metropolitan Transit Authority officials planned for the new system – which will affect practically every bus ride in the region – they have also focused on offering new services. One of those, a system that allows bus riders to text a code listed at each bus stop and receive a reply with the time of the next bus arriving, will debut in August, at the same time sweeping changes come to Metro’s bus routes.

The second new feature, an application to allow riders to buy fares and display them on their smartphones, will be ready in October or November, said Denise Wendler, Metro’s chief information officer.

Officials last month approved a $244,090 contract with GlobeSherpa for the smartphone payment system. Wendler said it would take 60 to 90 days to unveil the first phase, available only to purchase regular fares and day passes. A second phase would enable riders to buy fares specific to park and ride and to pay with online tools such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

The new text and smartphone payment systems are intended not only to provide better service for existing riders, but to attract new Metro users, officials said.

Metro does already have a smartphone app, the TRIP app, available on its RiderTools page. That will clearly need an update once the new bus system is rolled out. I suspect the text-to-find-the-time-of-the-next-bus service will be easier to use. As for the pay-by-smartphone app, it’s a great idea that I hope does help increase ridership. Not everyone carries cash, not everyone has a Q card, but lots of people have smartphones, and as long as you do you can catch a ride. I look forward to hearing what kind of numbers they see from this.

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One Comment

  1. robert says:

    I’ve used nextbus.com, it uses the GPS on the phone and the GPS of the bus to tell you when the next bus for nearby routes will be arriving. but that is in a city with real public transportation and multiple bus options to use…..Easier than texts, imo