The City of Airdrie has launched a mobile payment app that will enable local transit users to purchase monthly passes or a one-time ticket directly through their smart phone prior to riding an Airdrie Transit bus.
The program, made possible through a partnership with New Brunswick-based company HotSpot App, aims to remove barriers and offer a simple and cashless point of sale for transit users who can download the app for Apple or Android devices.
Mayor Peter Brown said in a City press release he is happy about the ease with which customers may now access public transit services.
“It is important that we continue to evolve to meet the needs of residents,” he said following the launch of the app on Jan. 12. “This option will make transit use more seamless for a large group of customers.”
According to Chris MacIsaac, Airdrie Transit team leader, the project has been in the works since 2015, when a grant application was first submitted to the provincial government. At the time, the City had surveyed Airdrie Transit customers to determine what the public would like to see improved upon.
MacIsaac said survey results indicated users wanted a more convenient way to pay for their services, preferably using their mobile devices instead of cash.
“Going back to 2015 seems a long time [ago] and we had gone through a few versions of this project before we finally found a provider that would meet all the requirements,” he said, adding the Airdrie Transit team searched high and low for a Canadian-based provider who could store information on Canadian servers.
MacIsaac said the City has been working with HotSpot App for several months to put a solution in place for transit customers this year, officially launching the app on Jan. 12.
He added the City is starting to see sales trickle in since the app’s launch last week.
“We’re just under a week in, and [we’re] starting to see our first sales,” he said. “So far, we’ve had 19 unique customers and 26 total sales – a combination of single-use tickets and monthly passes.
“We know it’s going to take a little bit of time because it’s something new.”
He added his team anticipated a mid-January launch in preparation for customers who would purchase a monthly pass for February. He said they expect to see more transactions take place as they get closer to their next month of service.
“We’re hoping through offering this platform that we can decrease the amount of cash that is being collected on board the bus or the number of passes or tickets that are being distributed by 30 per cent by the end of 2022,” he said, adding it is an important step towards becoming more sustainable.
“Transit is always in a position where we’re trying to compete. We’re competing against private cars and the convenience they offer – we have to try to provide features that are convenient for our customers.”
Implementation of a mobile app is one of those features, MacIsaac added, removing barriers for infrequent customers who would jump on the bus on a rare occasion.
“You don’t have to have exact change when you board the bus, you don’t have to go out and buy a pass or a ticket in advance, he said. “Now you can do it all through an app on your phone so you’re not having to see what the cash fare is or break a $20 bill just so you have spare change in your pocket.
“That’s probably one of the better features this platform provides – that level of convenience for our customers.”
He said the benefits extend to the City as well, adding it is a more efficient way for Airdrie Transit to sell their products and services without tying up additional resources collecting cash from the buses on a regular basis, or sending out tickets and passes to outlets at such a high volume.
However, to ensure payment options remain accessible for all customers, cash, paper tickets and monthly passes will continue to be available for purchase.
Information on downloading the HotSpot App can be found at airdrietransit.ca