July 2014 Union Strike

A tentative deal between the MTA and LIRR Unions to avert a July Strike has been reached. See this post for more information.

Tuesday, June 3

Mobile Ticketing Debuts on NICE Bus

Today marks the first day that NICE Bus' (Nassau County's oft-forgotten public bus system) new mobile ticketing system goes live.  Starting today, Android users can download NICE's "goMobile" application and use it to pay their fare onboard buses (an iOS version of the app will be made available later in the week).  NICE's mobile ticketing system is the first of its kind for bus-only public transportation services in the United States.  Before today, NICE did not have a fare medium of their own--they only accepted either cash fares in coins, or the MetroCard.  With the new goMobile service, NICE users can purchase single-ride tickets for $2.75.

The mobile ticketing system, which was announced just this past December, arrived pretty quickly and pretty much exactly when NICE has said they would roll the system out fully.  The system was developed by Masabi, which also happens to be the same vendor which was chosen to develop a mobile ticking system for the LIRR and Metro-North back in April.

The system works very much like all of Masabi's other JustRide Mobile Ticketing Systems: 

NICE's mobile tickets will only be accepted on NICE buses, so those who wish to transfer to New York City Transit Subways or Buses should still continue to use the MetroCard, as no paper transfers will be given.  goMobile users can, however, transfer to up to two additional NICE buses within 2 hours and 15 minutes of activating their ticket.

With Masabi's JustRide system, cell phones need to be connected to the internet data via cellular data or Wi-Fi in order to purchase tickets, but you do not need to be connected to the internet to activate tickets.  Just like most other Mobile Ticketing system, goMobile principally works by visual verification, where bus operators look at riders' phones as they board.  Mobile tickets also come with barcodes that can be used on certain buses with barcode scanners or by operators or inspectors with barcode scanners.

The system is "free" to use.  There is no charge to download the app, however the fares sold through the app are sold at a price of $2.75 per ticket.  $2.75 per ticket is 25¢ more than what you would pay if you used your MetroCard and 50¢ more than what people who pay with exact change pay now ($2.25).  For a service that is targeted to make riding the bus more convenient for those who pay with exact change, a 50¢ jump in price is a significant service charge that NICE is passing along to its riders.  At this point in time, NICE is only selling single-ride tickets through its goMobile system, and there are currently no unlimited-ride pass options for NICE travelers (NICE users can currently use unlimited ride MetroCards on NICE buses (or LIRR Uni-Tickets), but there is no cheaper alternative for those who want to get an unlimited ride pass from NICE).

While NICE's goMobile system is an improvement for those who do not wish to carry coins or a MetroCard, it does come with some drawbacks.  There is a notable financial penalty for using the mobile ticketing platform and its use is limited to those whose trips are completed exclusively on NICE bus routes, as no transfers to other systems are provided. It is worth noting that this system came to be in just about six months, and this is something that the MTA will hopefully be able to replicate with its own mobile ticketing system now in development by Masabi.

3 comments:

  1. Not true, the $2.75 price point is the same as if you would buy a one way ride with a MetroCard.

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  2. I think that if you buy more than 1 ticket at a time then the price is $2.50. MTA Single ride tickets are $2.75. As a NICE rider I can tell you that we are worse off than with MTA Long Island Bus. The buses are less frequent and alot less reliable. There's alot of breakdowns and buses with no a/c. If this is an attempt to gain more riders, its not going to work. They need to improve the service levels and reliability. Nassau County is the ultimate person to blame (which is actually Ed Mangano) which refused to pay the MTA the reasonable $36M subsidy, which in turn, a long relationship was severed, and a private contractor approved in place. Ridership is down, in fact, it's the lowest in years since 1998 (http://blog.tstc.org/2014/03/10/annual-transit-ridership-grows-but-not-on-long-island/), which no doubt is due to unreliable service and less service. For instance since the last trips on the n51 from Merrick are now at 6:50pm instead of 7:34pm, many of the connecting commuters who used to take it now drive or get picked up. Other routes have lost choice riders, leaving only the destitute (which has happened on most routes). While its great they've developed this app, it doesn't integrate with the MTA system, and that is the problem. Riders want integration with MTA, and since they've moved in a direction AWAY from the MTA, it just helps drive ridership down further. Mangano & Nassau County need to swallow their pride and get back to the table with the MTA and restore the service we had prior to 2012. Paying the MTA makes the most dollars and sense, since the county continues to lose money as people and businesses move away due to unreliable transportation.

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