For the past several months, riders of Massachusetts’ rail and ferry system have been using a new app that lets them purchase tickets right from their phone.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the country, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s mTicket supports an end-to-end ticketing system that serves all of the state’s commuter rail lines and ferries, according to the state’s innovation blog.
mTicket uses customer-facing apps for both iOS and Android phones, conductor validation apps for staff, a management console, secure payment integration and a cloud-based back-end for customer service and support.
“Repeat users can make purchases in as little as 15 seconds as the app remembers previous selections and securely stores payment details,” the blog said. “Riders can buy tickets any time before riding and keep them in the app’s ‘My Tickets’ section until needed.”
Riders can purchase single-ride, round trip, 10-ride tickets or monthly passes.
Buying an mTicket can also save riders a bit of cash and aggravation in some scenarios. When ticketless riders race past an open ticket booth or machine in a busy station and then use cash to buy a ticket on-board, they incur a $3 surcharge. Now those riders can buy an mticket instead, avoiding the surcharge (and long lines at the station) while sparing conductors a time-consuming cash transaction.
Since August, over one million tickets have been sold, accounting for 16 percent of ticket sales, while cash-on board sales have dropped.
“Ultimately, both commuters and the MBTA benefit significantly from use of mTicket,” the blog said. “Commuters enjoy more flexibility in their ticket-buying options and MBTA staff gain valuable time during travel thanks to the drop in cash-on-board transactions.”
Of the state’s 135 commuter rail stations, only a handful have ticket vending machines, meaning that, in the past, the only option for many travelers was to buy a ticket with cash once on-board. The option to buy at any time with their phone and credit card adds an unprecedented level of convenience for these riders. A significant added benefit is that this frees up valuable conductor time en route as staff spend less time handling cash transactions and more time on other priorities.