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San Antonio Consolidates Multimodal Transit Payments in One App

Planning and paying for trips across multiple transportation modes in San Antonio, Texas, can now be accomplished in a single app, enabling a long-sought customer convenience.

A public bus in San Antonio, with four electric scooters parked on the sidewalk in front of it.
One of San Antonio’s VIA transit buses on a downtown street. The city invested more than $14 million into providing more frequent service on 18 selected routes and saw ridership on those routes jump more than 20 percent in a year.
(Shutterstock)
Transit and bike-share users in San Antonio, Texas, can now book and pay for service all in one smartphone app.

The Transit app has integrated BCycle and VIA Metropolitan Transit, the transit provider in San Antonio, into its operations, enabling payments and ticketing across mobility modes.

“Using their single Transit account, users can both purchase bus passes for VIA Metropolitan Transit, and passes for San Antonio BCycle,” said Stephen Miller, communications lead for Transit App.

The app’s integration between bike-share and transit will offer “a much cleaner solution for people to get around,” said JD Simpson, general manager for BCycle in San Antonio, which operates about 250 pedal-assist e-bikes across 50 stations.

The ease of interoperability between transit and bike-share is essential for increased ridership, “but it’s also just solving the transportation problem like first-mile and last-mile,” Simpson added, underscoring perennial concerns among transportation leaders exploring opportunities to get people out of single-occupancy cars.

Riders can unlock bus passes, as well as unlock a BCycle bike with the tap of a button in the app, explained Miller.

“With our trip planner, users can enter a destination and if a trip that combines bike-share and buses is identified as a good option by our algorithm, users can tap it to see the complete route to their destination,” he added.

This level of convenience, made possible by digital and mobile tools, has become the expectation of riders, say transportation watchers.

“This level of interoperability is crucial for cities that are working to give more options for getting around car-free,” said Miller. “When people choose to drive or take ride-hail, it’s because there’s a seamless system: they don’t have to think too hard about navigation and payment since it all works easily.”

VIA riders have used the Transit app for ticketing some 77,000 trips since VIA launched fare-payment within the app less than a year ago.

That convenience and seamless level of experience also extends to visitors to San Antonio, given the ubiquity of the Transit app as a go-to source for transit information across dozens of metros, which means many transit users — regardless of where they live — already have the Transit app on their mobile devices, Simpson explained.

Cleveland, Ohio’s transit system was one of the latest transit networks to integrate fare payment into a single platform that integrates with the Transit app, Uber and Moovit, allowing riders to pay for their trips on these familiar and ubiquitous platforms.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.


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