Mobile ticketing coming to the light rail within months with the help of a Charlotte startup

Mobile ticketing coming to the light rail within months with the help of a Charlotte startup
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Finally! Charlotte Area Transit System plans to pilot mobile ticketing for the light rail with technology from Charlotte startup Passport.

The city of Charlotte revealed the upcoming program in a memo to the City Council. The pilot project is expected to roll out in the next few months.

The reasoning behind it? Part of it is to make sure more people are buying tickets. “If there is a line to purchase a ticket and the train pulls up, most people will just get on,” the city says.

At the same time, an estimated 85 percent of Charlotte transit riders have a smartphone.

What is Passport?

This Charlotte startup has partnerships with mass transit agencies across the country and is growing like gangbusters. They offer mobile payment for parking and transit.

[Agenda story: Charlotte startup Passport lands $8 million funding round]

Right now, you can buy CATS passes online — but they have to physically mail the passes to you. This system would let you purchase and display passes on our phone.

Once the program is up and running, people who do not have a banking relationship are able to go into stores like Walgreens and CVS and load money onto their Passport app.

Passport and CATS declined to comment. 

The initiative is one of several modernization projects CATS is in the middle of.

The transit system has been taking steps toward reloadable smart cards that could be used across light rail and buses. Presumably, that would become a part of mobile ticketing as well. The City Council approved $7.7 million toward that last year.

CEO John Lewis has also embarked on a redesign of CATS bus routes.

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