The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s mobile ticketing application, mTicket — which was released in November — surpassed $1 million in sales revenues Tuesday, officials said.
“I’ll tell you, the app exceeded what we expected,” said Joshua Robin, MBTA director of innovation. “If anything it’s speeding up and it’s gathering more people who hear about it and try it out.”
The app, released on Android and iOS platforms in early November, garnered more than 35,000 downloads and more than 100,000 tickets have been purchased, according to a statement released by the MBTA Wednesday.
“The development and implementation of mobile ticketing for our Commuter Rail customers represents not only an improvement in service and convenience, but also in the way we are collecting revenue,” said Dr. Beverly Scott, general manager of the MBTA in a statement. “We are still early in the effort but we feel we are saving thousands by not installing expensive vending machines, saving on ticket production and eliminating cash transactions – all while making riders’ commutes easier.”
A Lowell rider at 5:40 a.m. on Tuesday pushed the mTicket sales over the $1 million mark. The rider was contacted and congratulated by T officials, Robin said.
The app saw a predictable drop in ticket sales during the holiday week of Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. In 2013 ticket sales have increased by about 25 percent, with a large proportion of revenues owing to monthly ticket purchases, according to statistics published by the MBTA.
Marketing and advertising for the app has been light on account of low budgets, Robin said. He said the app relied mostly on word of mouth and media reports to increase circulation.
“Advertising has consisted of ads on trains, in stations, and street teams,” he said. “We have also been giving out small advertising cards to riders who purchase on board.”
Robin said he hopes the app will account for 25 percent of sales by the end of 2013.
“About 76 percent of riders owned a smartphone or app-capable mobile device,” he said. “We notice there’s a market there to reach, and it’s a matter of using the right strategy to get out to those riders.”
Robin said the app has been tremendously successful and the MBTA is looking ahead at future plans.
“We’re the first success in the country to release a mobile ticketing app,” he said. “It was a pilot put out there to validate that the
program works. It did, and I’m proud of that.”
A number of riders praised the app’s speed and convenience over the paper ticket model.
“It’s faster and you don’t have to wait in line, provided you have Internet access,” Saurabh Holia said.
Holia said he is not a frequent rider, but when he does take the T, he makes use of mTicket. But he said the app could take away potential employment for ticket agents.
“[The app] is helpful, but it might take away jobs,” he said. “I’m happy with it but I feel it should be balanced.”
Jacob Fraser said he has not used the app, but thought many people could find it beneficial.
“It’s a good idea,” he said. “A lot of people use credit cards when paying last minute. The app sounds reasonable.”
Elaina Surides said she also has not used the app, but said it sounded convenient.
“I think [the app] is well worth it,” she said. “It saves time and it saves paper. I think it’s a great idea.”