2016/01/22

RideSacRT app

RideSacRTI have been using the RideSacRT app for a bit of time, and have some initial impressions.

When I started, I could not get the app to accept credit cards, which is the only way to pay for tickets. It rejected three different cards (two credit and one debit). I asked about that via Twitter, and SacRT responded that they were aware of problems with some credit cards. After a couple of days, I tried again, and my main card was accepted.

It is fairly easy to purchase tickets. Tap on the the “buy tickets” icon on the lower left, select the length (single or daily pass) and type (basic or discount), and the quantity, and then “add to cart.” Then select select your card, or enter your card if you have not used it before, and then “pay now” and “purchase.” You can then use your ticket immediately, or later by selecting “ticket manager” from the pull-up menu in the lower right corner.

RideSacRT-TicketWalletThe ticket, once selected for use, lasts for 90 minutes and is good on buses and light rail.

William Burg and others have been discussing whether this 90 minute window offered to smart phone users is fair to people who pay cash, and only get one ride. If there were ticket machines available everywhere, it might be reasonable to require that someone pre-purchase a ticket of some sort, but there are not machines everywhere. People paying cash do slow down boarding of buses, often fumbling for the right change and search for money in various places. This is significant because dwell time, the amount of time a bus spends stopped, the largest determinant of how efficient the route is. This is why transit agencies are experimenting with smart phone apps and transit cards like the Connected Card, coming to SacRT some time this century. I’m not sure how I feel about the equity issue.

The app cannot purchase or store passes. The app is a six month pilot, so it is possible that other capabilities will be added during or at the end of the pilot.

The app also offers routing. It opens with a display of a Google Maps centered on the current location, and start/end fields at the top. But the search routine is seriously flawed. It cannot find street intersections. For example, a search for Folsom and 65th St came up with a location far south on 65th St. It cannot find transit stops unless you know and can enter the exact name of the stop. For example, a search for 65th St Station produces nothing, since the actual name of that station University/65th St. If you type a partial match, a list of suggestions is provided, but that list cannot be scrolled, it pops back to the first two on the list and anything further down (which is likely since the matching is so poor) cannot be selected. For example, type “65th” and see what happens. The app is perfectly happy to match partial names to places completely outside the SacRT service area. For example, Berkeley.

So, my first take is that the ticket purchase is worthwhile, but the routing function is worthless.

Note: I’ve not offered a screenshot of an active ticket because I’m not in Sacramento at the moment, and it would waste a ticket to use one.

 

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. I’ve used the mobile web app (“when’s the next bus coming”) and find it useful, but I haven’t seen the ticket app. Looks like it would be best to wait until it’s perfected. I really don’t see that it is very useful – but then I always make sure to carry the right change.

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About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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