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T launches sign-up for commuter rail riders to test, get updates on mobile ticketing app

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  June 11, 2012 11:21 AM

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MobileTicketingSignUp.jpg

(MBTA)

A screenshot of the mobile ticketing application signup page the T launched on its website over the weekend.

Commuter rail riders can now sign up to for a chance to help test, give feedback and get first access to a mobile ticketing application the MBTA is developing and plans to launch in the fall.

The free application will allow commuter rail riders, who download the app on an iPhone, Android or Blackberry, to purchase and display tickets on their smartphones.

21commuter.jpg
(Nick Dillon for The Boston Globe)
A prototype screenshot of a mobile ticketing app.
The T launched a sign-up page on its website over the weekend, agency spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail.

Those who register will be the first to receive updates about the project, including first notification once the application is available to use.

As work to develop the smartphone application progresses this summer, the T will draw from the list of riders who sign up to ask them to participate in focus groups and consumer testing. Riders who register may also be contacted to join a pilot program in early fall.

On the registration webpage, commuter rail riders are asked to enter an e-mail address and select the commuter rail line they most frequently use in order to start the sign-up process.

The application will provide riders an alternative to using cash or prepaid paper tickets and passes.

An estimated two-thirds of riders carry smartphones, which could make fare collection more efficient for the T, which runs the nation’s fifth-busiest commuter rail network, the Globe reported in April.

The T would be the first major commuter rail in the US to offer passengers an alternative to paper. Mobile ticketing applications are prevalent in England, where the world’s first mobile train ticket was unveiled in 2007.

As the transit agency works to launch the application, it simultaneously is discarding prior pledges to expand use of the nearly six-year-old plastic CharlieCard to the commuter rail system, the Globe reported.

The mobile application will cost the MBTA little to deploy - printing for an in-house marketing campaign, mostly - while providing app developer Masabi a 2.8 percent cut of tickets and passes sold by the app. Expanding the CharlieCard to commuter rail has been estimated to cost up to $70 million, according to the recent Globe report.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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