The SFMTA May Soon Test a Smartphone Ticketing App for Muni Riders
San Francisco is always looking for new and innovative ways to make life easier and more efficient for its residents. If you ask a San Franciscan, they may say the only difficult part of living in the city is Muni – but that could change.
The San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency recently announced its plans to run a six-month trial for using a smartphone ticketing app for Muni riders to pay their fares.
Easier for Riders
Although riders already have the option of buying a Clipper Card, the app would, in theory, best aid riders who don’t want to bother with the card, or don’t want to fumble for their wallet every time they get on a crowded train during rush hour. The app however, is not intended to replace Clipper, though will be a better alternative to light rail fare cards for some.
SFGate reported that the app will “allow passengers to pay single-ride, cable car and special event fares, and buy visitor passports using their smart phones,” however the app will not include Fast Passes on phones.
An Innovative Approach?
The app could be rolled out in early 2015 for its six month trial, but no contract has been finalized for who is set to build the app. Business Insider reported that Portland based GlobeSherpa may win a contract with SFMTA as soon as the end of the month.
GlobeSherpa has already built a reputation by utilizing QR codes for Portland’s transit agency, TriMet. Last month the software firm took it a step further by winning a contract with the transit agency to build an app that would allow phones to utilize NFC technology to pay fares, the same idea that would likely be used for Muni.
NFC – or “near field communication” is the same technology that allows Muni to use Clipper Cards for fare payments. Many smart phones have the capability to utilize the same technology.
Increased Efficiency for the Agency
Transit agencies in other major cities, such as Boston and Newark, have already began utilizing smart phone ticketing. But, with Muni riders averaging about 700,000 a day, this would make the SFMTA one of the largest transit agencies to roll out smart phone ticketing.
What do you think? Would you rather scan your smartphone or use the Clipper Card? Let us know in the comments below.