Since 2012, many major commuter railroads have deployed mobile ticketing applications (or “apps”) that allow passengers to pay fares directly using their smartphones. In light of this rapid technological change, this research aims to provide a synthesis of the current state of mobile ticketing in the United States. The 14 largest commuter railroads that have launched mobile ticketing apps are compared in four different areas: (1) the ticket validation process; (2) ticket types offered in the mobile app; (3) additional features in the app; and (4) the process for transferring to other modes using the app. The results reveal that all mobile ticketing applications considered in this analysis utilize visual inspection for validation, and that most of them also use quick response (QR) barcodes to validate tickets. Additionally, many of the commuter rail operators examined offer the majority of the ticket types available via traditional fare media in their mobile ticketing apps. The third dimension revealed a large degree of variation in the availability of additional travel-related features, such as trip planners and schedules, in mobile ticketing apps. Last, only a handful of commuter rail operators have fully integrated transfer policies between commuter rail and other nearby transit modes using mobile ticketing, which is an area that warrants further study. These findings are important for other commuter rail and transit operators that are considering deployment of mobile ticketing systems.
Mesoraca, Jonathan & Brakewood, Candace.
A Synthesis of Mobile Ticketing Applications Used by Commuter Railroads in the United States.
Journal of Public Transportation, 21 (2): 86-100.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jpt/vol21/iss2/6