WASHINGTON – The D.C. Department of Transportation is aiming for a fall launch date for H Street’s long-awaited streetcar line and is looking to introduce a new mobile app to go along with it.
The agency outlined the requirements in a request soliciting proposals to develop the app, which would allow people to purchase tickets on their smartphones. According to the 54-page request, that the app is expected to be available on Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft and up to four other platforms, one of which may be Blackberry.
The app would allow passengers to split payment between two credit cards, or a credit card and a SmartBenefits account. SmartBenefits accounts, also known as transit benefits, allow companies to offer employees money to commute on mass transit.
Tickets will also be available for purchase at vending machines at the streetcar stations.
Companies interested in developing the app will submit their proposals to the agency. GlobeSherpa is interested in applying.
GlobeSherpa runs VRE Mobile, the mobile ticketing app launched on Virginia Railway Express earlier this year. The app has many of the same functionalities that DDOT appears to be looking for.
“We built an app for the Portland Streetcar and recently competed for the City of Atlanta Streetcar mobile ticketing contract,” GlobeSherpa spokesman Mac Brown said in an email to WTOP. “In fact, we have been notified by the city that we have been ranked by the evaluation committee as the top vendor there. So we are anticipating receiving the award of that contract and starting to develop that project this year. We feel good about our chance in D.C. with D.C. Streetcar.”
The D.C. streetcar app would allow people to use tickets, regardless of whether the smartphone has any cellular service. The app would be able to complete customer purchases in 15 seconds or less and activate a customer’s ticket in two seconds or less. DDOT plans to have employees on board to scan tickets using commercial scanning devices. Verification of tickets should be available in no more than 750 milliseconds.
Streetcar fares also were revealed in the transit agency’s request for proposals. People between the ages of 5 and 64 can expect to pay $1 to ride the streetcars. Those 65 years and older will be charged 50 cents. People with a valid MetroAccess card will ride free, as will people younger than 5, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Students will also be able to ride for free during school hours with a valid D.C. One Student card.
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