The world is going paperless and so should you when it comes to mass transit. How many times have you spent time looking for that transit ticket, searching for change for the ticket vending machine, or missing a connection due to paper tickets?

Mass transit is moving towards mobile applications to stay connected to its customers. Agencies such and the MBTA and TriMet have implemented an e-ticket mobile application to take the hassle of ticket purchasing away. No need to search for that paper ticket or look at those tri-fold route maps. Riders can download the app directly to their phone. Not only will you be able to purchase tickets for one-day, ten days or thirty days, but also other tools to make your commute hassle-free and stress-free. Other tools may include route maps, attractions, other mass transit services, updates, etc.





Another benefit for mobile applications is communication. The company may push notifications to the consumer concerning route issues and other updates. By pushing this communication, the user may feel connected and almost obligated to keep the app due to those real-time updates.

Measuring the success of the mobile applications should be divided into two categories quantity and quality. Under quantity is the number of times the app is downloaded, number of in-app purchases (i.e. tickets), and visits to the app. If the app is free, there is no the number of downloads will primarily show interest. The key is the number of e-tickets purchased that will determine if the app is successful and if it driving revenue to the company.

Quality is measured with engagement. This is diving deeper into the user experience inside the app. Determining what the user is doing inside the application, how long they are using the app and how many times they use the tools in the app. In addition, allowing the users to post to their social media sites from the app is a sign of engagement as well.

With these analytics, a demographic is created to determine which tools are most effective to the user. It can act as its own marketing research project for the app and help create new opportunities for future tools. There may be in-app options that include user preferences related to their commute, notifications of schedules, area attractions and possible a “members only” benefit to discounts and other rewards.

Here are some other agencies using E-Ticketing:

Chicago Transit Authority
Dallas Area Rapid Transit


10 thoughts on “Stay connected and save time with e-tickets

  1. This is a really great idea. One other perk is that you can give the user a digital receipt for purchases made to fund their trips. For example, I have a SmartTrip card, but I never remember how to log in to the site to keep track of my trips or balance on my card. This would be much more seamless. Also, I would imagine that you could use barcodes on your phone to scan and pass through the turnstiles.

    1. This is “new” technology for most mass transit agencies that does require some additional capital expenses for programming and hardware. I’m sure this will be the trend in the next few years. This would definitely make the commute a little easier for all of us!

  2. I agree with Ashley, this is a great way to get more information out to consumers and make managing your transit account much easier. I wonder, however, if these programs could be coupled with more investment to improve cellular and data signals on the actual transit lines. At least in Boston, there is not great signal when taking the subway through tunnels. Providing better signals on the trains and in the underground stations could allow travelers the ability to book return trips, re-load their passes, and check delays with more ease.

  3. Interesting post! The MTA in NY tried this a couple years ago, but I don’t think it stuck or at least I have not seen this feature as of yet in the city.

  4. This is truly a great idea. I really wish the MBTA had this when I was working in Boston. It would have made my life easier on the days I forgot to purchase before I got to the train station. It will be interesting to see if they can track in app activities. What do you think they will find?

    1. I think it would be key to track in-app activities. I would be a great peek into the target market and their behavior, such as which types of tickets they buy, what routes are reviewed and other behaviors.

  5. Great use of video. Overall, it’s a very informative post. However, can you speak to the success of these apps? Is the public embracing them? To what extent are they being used? How are they defining success?

    1. The most popular apps are the ones that show arrival times and delays. This information is key to the commuter that is trying to get to work. The ticketing apps are just beginning to gain momentum. It will be interesting to see how this catches on with the different demographics in the mass transit industry.

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