Tucson, AZ Transit Case Study

Building a mobile foundation for the future of transit



average increase in activated tickets YOY


increase in mobile ticketing revenue between the first and third years

16 Million

riders per year

Nestled in the Sonoran Desert against the Santa Catalina mountains, Tucson is home to the University of Arizona as well as a busy commercial district. Students, faculty and commuters alike take the Sun Link streetcar, Sun Tran bus system and the commuter Sun Shuttle to head to campus and navigate the city.

The City of Tucson was seeking a modern solution in order to evolve its operations. Many transportation tickets were traditionally only sold through ticket vending machines (TVMs), which offered limited flexibility in fare options, or by loading fares onto a smart card. With university students flooding the streetcar each Fall and Spring, the city knew it needed a mobile ticketing solution to appeal to this young and tech-savvy generation now and in the future.

“Think forward about where you want to go with mobile ticketing, because it’s so versatile and there is a lot of opportunity, and it’s more than just an app. It doesn’t have to be right away, but the mobile app can be a gateway to communicating with customers in different ways”

– Sam Credio, Interim Deputy Director, Tucson Department of Transportation


With Passport

Tucson has a mobile ticketing option, the GoTucson Transit app, powered by Passport, that appeals to commuters of all ages to get around the city and pay for the fare types they need, with the convenience they want. Passport easily integrates into the existing ticketing system for a seamless solution, and provides the agency with a versatile data collection system that can help it better connect with riders today and tomorrow.

Serving riders where they are

“We were trying to boost our ridership with millennials and commuters, and [mobile ticketing] is the fare payment option that they seem to prefer. The University of Arizona students and faculty were very interested in this fare payment option, and they make up a large percentage of our riders on the Sun Link streetcar,” said Pat Richter, Director of Marketing at Sun Tran. The mobile solution from Passport not only gives riders the opportunity to purchase fares anytime and anywhere, it also gives Tucson the ability to offer more fares than those available at the TVMs. With Passport, Tucson can offer a single boarding pass, 1-day pass, 3-day pass, 30-day pass, an express fare and an annual fare.

Providing accessible options

Tucson provides eligibility options for students, faculty, commuters with disabilities, seniors and low income riders, and is able to offer these options through the GoTucson Transit app. After confirming their eligibility status, eligible riders receive a code from Tucson or the university, which they then enter into the app. Tucson is one of only a handful of cities across the United States that offer a low income fare that helps everyone get around the city.

Partnering for success

Tucson sought a partner who demonstrated responsiveness, a willingness to configure solutions to meet its technical needs, and a tech-savvy group of engineers and programmers, and got just that with its partnership with Passport. “It’s been great…we have monthly calls to talk through any issues or events on the horizon…the response and service is excellent,” said Interim Deputy Director Sam Credio.

Creating a holistic solution

In addition to powering the city’s mobile ticketing, Passport also supports the city with its parking app, GoTucson Parking, which links from the transit app, providing Tucson with a consistent brand and convenient payment options across multiple modes of transportation.

Promoting the app

Passport supports Tucson with awareness campaigns targeted toward students and residents. With students returning to campus in the fall, Passport invested in large vertical displays in the streetcars, bus shelter displays, PR and how-to flyers for student orientations.

The GoTucson Transit app is personalized to the local riders’ needs. Passport was able to provide tailored branding to Tucson, that improved app adoption and the overall user experience.

Looking to the future

As Tucson looks to the future of transportation and mobility, it’s thinking big and following its mission to create and operate a safe and reliable multi-modal system for moving people and goods throughout our community. “As we think about mobility in general, transit and parking need to have a good relationship so we understand the connectivity pieces. We’re looking at packages with transit and parking bundles, and we brought on a bike share as well. As municipalities and agencies plan for more changes in mobility, Interim Deputy Director Sam Credio advises “to think long term and put those plans in place at the onset. [Mobile ticketing] is so versatile and there is a lot of opportunity, and it’s more than just an app. It can be a way of communicating with customers. [Change] doesn’t have to be right away, but try to see where you are going as an agency.”

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