Articles

Orange County, Calif., Hopes Smartphones Can Replace Bus Tickets

Implementing the mobile ticketing system would bring the Orange County Transportation Authority up to speed with other transit agencies in Southern California.

by Jessica Kwong, The Orange County Register / March 29, 2016
The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center in Anaheim, Calif.

(TNS) -- Soon, Orange County bus riders may be able to buy and pull up electronic tickets on their smartphones and scan them next to traditional fare boxes for cash-paying customers.

The Orange County Transportation Authority board on Monday approved a request for proposals to purchase and install electronic readers and the hardware to read new mobile tickets for fixed-route buses.

Officials hope the added convenience will make bus rides more efficient for Orange County customers, OCTA spokesman Eric Carpenter said.

“A priority we hear from passengers is wanting to get to their destination faster,” he said. “We’re excited to offer this more convenient way for some passengers to ride and hope it will attract new riders, as well.”

Implementing the mobile ticketing system would bring OCTA up to speed with other transit agencies in Southern California, including the Anaheim Transportation Network, Metrolink’s Inland Empire-Orange County Line and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which deployed such systems last year, Carpenter said. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District that have done so for special events as well, he said.

Following direction from OCTA board members, staff for several years has been studying ways to improve fare collection and incorporate new technology to track customer data.

The transit authority board last July awarded a contract to GlobeSherpa Inc. to develop and maintain software for a mobile ticketing system, including how the mobile tickets will appear, maps and routes, and real-time bus location information.

Last December, the board directed staff to move forward with implementing the new ticketing system and return with a request for proposals. A firm is being sought for a two-year, $2.56 million contact, with five one-year options to extend.

OCTA plans to bring mobile ticketing on board in phases, starting with Express bus routes traveling outside of the county in the next couple of months, then aboard the OC Fair Express service scheduled to run in July and August.

The transit authority next plans to offer mobile ticketing to college students this fall and use feedback to refine the program for a systemwide rollout in late 2016 or early 2017.

©2016 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.