Why should transit agencies invest in a mobile mobility platform?

If the last few months have shown transit agencies anything, it is that the investment in a quality mobile mobility app is crucial to moving public transit forward post-pandemic. However, the app must meet the needs of both the agency and also the users it serves. The agency and users are intrinsically linked as without satisfied users, the agency’s investment in a mobile mobility platform will be wasted.

This may sound obvious but there are many apps and platforms available for transit users which simply don’t meet the needs of neither the users nor the transit agency, thus leading to poor adoption levels and often the app will be abandoned by the very people who should benefit from it. Users must be satisfied by the app for it to have any chance of success for the agency.

But what are the elements of a quality mobile mobility app which make users satisfied and loyal?

The most important element is that the app needs to be reliable and easy to use. If users are relying on the app for their travel tickets and journey planning they need to know that it will work every time they go to use it, including on and offline use. The user interface should be fast and responsive to ensure that time-poor users can get what they need from the app with one click from the home screen, offering access to their tickets, purchases and their journey plan — fast.

The options and choices the app offers users are also important in keeping them coming back to use the app time and time again.

Public transit is no longer simply about traditional fixed-route services in many cities and is embracing the role of multimodal mobility managers. Users want to have the chance to plan, book and pay for a variety of fully integrated services including traditional fixed routes, bike sharing, e-scooter, and on-demand micro- and paratransit services and all through one app.

And their choices should extend to how they pay for their tickets with a payment system within the app supporting a wide range of payment methods (Payment cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, stored value, cash-to-mobile) allowing users a great degree of flexibility in how they pay for their tickets. Users also appreciate daily and monthly fare capping and special promotions for discounted rates to attend attractions, a general admission concert or a theme park which can be offered through an app and are not possible with traditional ticket sales systems such as TVMs and fareboxes.

And what are the benefits to the agency?

Firstly the aim should be for the transit agency to get more people using their transit systems but also to reduce agency costs in the long term.

However, this is much more likely when agencies opt for a quality mobile mobility solution as it will significantly increase their ROI. Mobile ticketing and payment is approximately half the cost of cash payment methods. Mobile adoption rates need to be high enough to make a significant impact on agency fare collection costs to obtain the benefit of the cost-effectiveness. Reduced dwell time is another immediate benefit when converting cash and paper ticket users to mobile users.

An easy to use app which allows users to plan, book and pay for their entire journey encourages greater take up of the transit services. This also allows the agency to control and own all their data rather than having a third-party app for journey planning.

Users also need to understand what services are available to them, both in terms of the multimodal options but also in the current service provision. There is the opportunity for the agency to communicate and interact with their users directly through the app meaning that they can ensure all timely and relevant information is easily available; something which is impossible with open payments, smart card and cash based solutions.

Rider alerts and in-app messaging means the users don’t miss out on key messages from the agency as well as receiving special offers, safety announcements and schedule changes. All of this can be communicated directly and quickly when needed.

Agencies will also appreciate a platform which lets them stay in control of the mobility services offered through the app with the opportunity to offer a host of capabilities which can be introduced as needed, offering flexibility for the agency and allowing for efficient adaptation to changing customer needs. The most efficient way to assess the level of quality of a solution delivered by a mobile mobility vendor is to check the ratings and user comments in Apple App Store and Google Play Store of the apps provided by the vendor to other agencies.

Contact us at hi@unwire.com if you want to hear how Unwire’s white label mobility platform can help you as a transit agency to offer fully integrated mobility services for end users to easily plan, book, and pay for their multimodal journeys in a high quality mobility app with your agency’s branding and you being in control.