Dallas Area Rapid Transit has announced plans to expand GoPass, its smartphone ticketing platform, to Tulsa. It will mark the agency's first such partnership outside North Texas.
Mark Enoch, chairman of the agency's public affairs committee, which reviewed the agreement Tuesday, called it a "great milestone."
The agency has sought to recoup its investment in the software platform by expanding it to other transit agencies nationwide. It's already inked deals with transit authorities in Denton and Fort Worth.
"We've already built the platform, and because it can be tailored to any transit organization, we've seen a big interest in it," said Gordon Shattles, an agency spokesperson. According to a presentation at the briefing, DART has received a "significant number of inquiries" from other agencies.
Mobile applications like GoPass, known in the industry as "Mobility-as-a-Service" platforms, are designed to aggregate multiple transportation services into a single streamlined experience, which unifies payment and trip planning. DART's offering is considered an industry leader and won an innovation award last year from the American Public Transportation Association.
The application also has been well-received by riders, who gave it a 4.8-star rating on the Apple App Store and have downloaded it more than 1.3 million times.
DART contracted with the Danish software consultant Unwire to develop the software using $1.5 million in funding from the Federal Transit Administration. It's weighing significant additional investments as it seeks to sign on more partners.
Now, with Tulsa on board, it has a powerful argument that those investments could pay off. A deal with the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority, worth up to $245,000, was approved by their board late last year. It awaits final approval by DART's board next month.
A full rollout in Tulsa will begin this summer and includes retail ticket kiosks as well as a website, according to DART's chief innovation officer, Gregory Elsborg.
But while DART's partnerships with other DFW transit authorities have an immediate impact for Dallas riders — who can now travel from Rowlett to downtown Fort Worth using a single ticket — a partnership with Tulsa, nearly 300 miles away, has fewer obvious benefits.
These deals, DART officials have argued, will fund the development of new features, like the creation of a website and integration of ride-sharing providers. DART began offering UberPool rides through the app in select areas last year, and Shattles says more partnerships are in the works.
Carol Schweiger, a transportation consultant who has spoken with a Tulsa official about the deal, called it a "really interesting development" and said she'd never heard of anything like it.
"We see transit agencies going to the private sector and saying, 'Can you build me the technology platform I need?' — not one transit agency purchasing a platform developed by another agency. That really doesn't happen," she said.
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