mTicket: MBTA launches ticketing app for commuter rail

MBTA rolls out mobile ticketing app to customers who travel through North and South Stations.
NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

It was a special day at the MBTA today – not only did the public transportation agency become the first in the nation to offer mobile ticketing, but its customers gave a collective and rare nod of approval.

“It sucks to lose your pass, so it is a good idea,” said Erin Vasil, a smartphone user and Greenbush line customer who recently learned the hard way that misplacing a fare pass can seriously screw up your day.

The app allows commuter rail customers to pay their fare ahead of time using their iPhone, Android or BlackBerry devices, which display a digital ticket they can show conductors.

For now, the app is only available for commuter trips that travel through North Station, but in a few weeks it will extend to customers at South Station as well as ferries.

“It’s definitely something I would use because it is more efficient,” said Mario Aiguello, a student who uses the Middleboro/Lakeville line. “Either you pay less ahead of time or you board the train and pay more.”

Matt Bibber, another Middleboro/Lakeville line rider, agreed: “Instead of waiting in line… it just makes sense.”

Transit officials said the T sold more than $2,500 in tickets through the app within the first few hours of the business day, and as of 3:30 p.m., approximately 1,800 people had downloaded the mTicket app.

“We’re really excited about this, it’s really a revolution for our customers and how they purchase their tickets,” MBTA Director of Innovation Joshua Robin said today.  “We’re proud to be the first agency in the U.S. offering mobile ticketing to customers.”

While the app is obviously in its infancy, T officials said so far its had a smooth start.
“We haven’t caught any bugs yet.  That said, we are rolling out in phases to make sure we get the details right,” Robin said.

Approximately 70,000 customers ride on the average weekday, and about 75 percent of them use smartphones.

As of now, the app only lets riders buy single and 10-ride tickets, but monthly passes will likely be added in the winter.

Less than half of MBTA’s 140 Commuter Rail stations have fare vending machines, which means many customers have been forced to pay for tickets on board.

Transit officials have said the app will extinguish the need to install new vending machines and lowers cash handling costs for the MBTA.

T officials have said that it may be years before the app rolls out to the rest of the transit system.

[View the story "#mTicket Chatter" on Storify]

Check out a short video of the app below:


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