An interview with city of Atlanta Deputy COO William Johnson
The city of Atlanta launched a mobile app for the Atlanta Streetcar after nearly a year-long delay.
The city’s deputy chief operating officer, William Johnson, said the app should help the city generate a little more revenue.
Right now, he said, only about 53 percent of riders are actually paying for tickets.
“We don’t get to check every rider and there are some people who take advantage of that. I guess they take a chance to see if they’re going to be checked, but we are spot-checking and enforcing ridership,” Johnson said. “With the app, we get faster turnaround, and it’s more convenient to purchase, so we anticipate that we’ll see a higher percentage of users actually purchasing tickets.”
Atlanta police and fare enforcement officers do spot checks and warn riders, giving them an opportunity to purchase tickets. Repeat offenders will receive a ticket. Fare enforcement officers are hired and trained through the Atlanta Police Department.
The app is available on iPhones and Android operating systems. It was originally scheduled to be ready in January 2016, when the city began charging riders $1 to ride the Streetcar.
In September 2015, City Council authorized a payment of $177,272 for the app.
In February, a Portland-based company called GlobeSherpa was contracted to develop the app for the Atlanta Streetcar. In mid-April, GlobeSherpa merged with Austin-based RideScout and renamed to moovel North America.
The city is looking for feedback over the next 30 days. Passengers can use credit, debit or Paypal to pay the $1 fare.
Johnson said the delay was to ensure the security of the app.
Paper tickets will still be available at all 12 Streetcar stops using debit, credit and Breeze cards. Separate ticket vending machines at four stops – King Historic District, Centennial Olympic Park, Woodruff Park and Park Place – will accept cash for purchases.
Johnson said ridership is in line with expectations, but there’s room for growth.
“We’re asking users to help us by providing feedback on their experience in using the app during the first month or so,” Johnson said. “As we continue to add more convenience and expand the streetcar system, we’ll see its utilization increase.”
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