Dallas area transit riders no longer have to purchase paper tickets for bus, train, commuter rail and express railway, thanks to a new mobile ticketing app launched on September 16.

The free app GoPass, available for iPhones and Androids, serves three Dallas transit agencies: Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), the Fort Worth Transportation Authority and the Denton County Transportation Authority, which cover Dallas and surrounding cities. Developed by the Denmark-based firm Unwire, the app’s deployment is the first time it’s been used in the U.S., according to a joint announcement from the three agencies.

After downloading the app, transit riders can register a cellphone number and credit card information to purchase tickets for same-day use or pre-purchase tickets up to 60 days in advance. When riders travel in a group, the app can be used to purchase multiple tickets in a single transaction.

To plan a trip, riders can use the integrated trip planning tool. According to the GoPass tutorial video, entering a destination prompts the app to map out the best route and provide multiple options to get there using transit.

According to Morgan Lyons, a DART spokesman, the mobile ticket is color coded to show its current status. The ticket appears gray on a phone’s screen when riders are in the process of purchasing it, then flashes yellow for two minutes upon activation and after that, changes to green.

If a fare enforcement or bus operator needs to view the ticket, they can verify the status by checking its color, according to the tutorial. Once the ticket expires, the color changes to red. Since launching last month, GoPass has had roughly 30,000 downloads and so far about 25,000 tickets have been purchased through the new platform. Lyons said despite the popularity of the new fare payment method, transit agencies have not seen a decrease in purchases from their ticket vending machines.

“It’s hard to tell if this is a trend, but it is if nothing else, it’s interesting to us that we have not seen a change,” Lyons said.

He said that because there’s been no decrease in vending machine ticket purchases, it could indicate that the app is converting the agencies’ cash customers to mobile users or that the app is possibly attracting new customers. But it’s too soon to know for sure.

Dallas commuters have already given feedback to DART about the perks of going cashless with mobile ticketing. One commuter, Dan F. from Dallas wrote to DART that GoPass has made his commute easier.

“I bought a ticket Tuesday morning as I was walking to the bus,” he wrote. “This was nice as I had no cash. That would normally have prevented me from riding that day or made it more complicated.”

Outside of the Dallas area, other U.S. transit agencies have seen similar success with mobile ticketing apps. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority launched an app similar to GoPass in November 2012 and since its deployment has made more than $10 million in ticket sales.

TriMet, the largest transit provider in Oregon, released an app that also allows riders to buy tickets with their smartphone, expecting to save millions in transaction costs and maintenance of ticket machines. Next year in Austin, Texas, riders on the city’s MetroRapid bus line will also be given the option to pay their travel fare electronically on mobile devices, as previously reported by Government Technology.

Lyons said he hopes the ticketing offers for Dallas transit agencies can expand by bundling ticket purchases with other purchases for local events and offers.

“We think this will help us develop ridership because as we look at discretionary riders, those who are able to make a choice to use transit, we really have to look for opportunities to intersect their lifestyle,” Lyons said. “And this gives us the ability to offer an incentive.”

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.