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Transit App to Make Some Features Subscription-Only

The app will make certain route and scheduling information available only by subscription. The company’s co-founders said they’re doing so to avoid ubiquitous ads or selling user data.

Transit, an app that helps people plan, book and pay for rides on public transit and other mobility options, is introducing a subscription model.

The company’s subscription plan will be called Royale, and it will put up a paywall in front of certain features that have long been free. Namely, after a two-week grace period, users will have to pay to see schedules far into the future or transit lines that are distant from their current location. The subscription will cost $2 per month on an annual plan or $4.99 on a monthly plan.

In a blog post, Transit’s co-founders wrote that the change is necessary to make the business sustainable without resorting to other methods that users might find distasteful.

“Here’s what we refuse to do: blast you with distracting ads, mine your personal data, sell it to the highest bidder. Making you our product, rather than our customer. We think that’s wrong,” the post reads.

After the grace period, only subscribers will be able to see beyond the next departure for transit lines within 200 meters, with a four-line minimum regardless of distance from the user, a company spokesperson specified.

Royale also includes “nice-to-haves” such as app customizations and user nicknames.

The subscription model will launch first in cities where Transit doesn’t currently have a partnership with a local transit agency, and then will launch in partner jurisdictions in 2022. Transit agencies will have the option of gifting Royale subscriptions to their riders, which they can bundle with other services. Riders who can’t afford a subscription will also have the ability to ask the company for a free subscription.

Transit is headquartered in Montreal, is live in more than 300 cities globally and helps more than 50 agencies sell fares. According to the company, several transit agencies have already signed up to gift Royale to their riders, including the Regional Transportation District in Denver and Metro Transit in St. Louis.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected after a company spokesperson clarified that free users will be able to see vehicle locations and future departure times for nearby stations.