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Transit Leaders Riding High on a New App that Sells Passes

This article originally appeared in the Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade transportation officials on Thursday unveiled a new app that will let Metrorail and Metrobus riders buy day passes directly through their smartphones.

Eventually the EASY Pay app, part of a new mobile ticketing system, will allow passengers to purchase from their phones seven-day and monthly passes.

The EASY Pay app comes on the heels of the Miami-Dade Transit app (MDT Tracker) that allows riders to check Metrorail, Metromover and Metrobus schedules and actual whereabouts of trains and buses, plus information that lets riders know how soon the train or the bus will arrive at their location.

“As part of our program to promote public transportation, in order to improve mobility, we want to do two things: make it easier to use all transit, eliminate hurdles and also provide incentives,” said Alice Bravo, the director of the county’s department of transportation and public works. “And mobile ticketing is going to help us do both of those things.”

Before the EASY Pay app, riders had to purchase their train or bus EASY Card passes from either a ticket-vending machine or from a transit service center like the large one at the Government Center Metrorail and Metromover station. Then you would tap that card at the Metrorail faregate or Metrobus farebox. Now, through the EASY Pay app, riders can buy passes online and the smart phone will generate a QR code — a machine-readable label that will be read by an optical scanner on the fare gate.

EASY PAY will be linked to the MDT Tracker app that was introduced in August. The MDT Tracker app includes a trip planner feature that gives you step-by-step suggestions on how to travel from one location to another in Miami-Dade.

EASY Pay is being introduced in phases, Bravo said.

Phase One, which began Thursday, allows users to buy one or multiple one-day passes. Metrorail stations already have EASY Pay-capable fare gates marked by an EASY Pay decal. Buses do not yet have fare-box scanning devices, but drivers have been trained to recognize the EASY Pay QR Code.

When Phase Two kicks in next spring, said Bravo, riders will be able to add money to existing EASY Cards by tapping the card on the phone. In the spring, riders also will be able to buy seven-day and monthly passes on the EASY Pay app. At a later phase, in late 2017, once users establish online accounts businesses that have partnered with the county will be able to push promotions to riders, Bravo said.

People who don’t want to use EASY Pay can continue to buy EASY Card passes with cash at the vending machines, transit service centers or sales outlets.

Bravo also noted that Miami-Dade officials are working with Tri-Rail, Broward County Transit, Palm Tran in Palm Beach County and others to be able to load their fare media onto the new EASY Pay app.

Another new feature transit officials launched this week is a Pay-by-Phone service that allows users to pay their Metrorail parking fees by phone.