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With a growing use of smartphones and improving technologies, mobile fare payment could be the next step forward for transit agencies. Already in use in Asia as boarding passes (especially in Japan), mobile fare payment is slowly being introduced in the United States as a convenient way to pay your transit fare. No need to walk up to an ATM to get cash; just download the app, hook it up to a Paypal account, pay for your fare before boarding, and go!

Chariot

Chariot is a crowdfunded transportation service that uses a mobile app exclusively to collect fares and to determine ridership. While all routes operate during the weekday rush hours, their high frequencies (vans between every 5 to 15 minutes) encourage riders to consider using them over San Francisco Muni. And for just $0.75 more than the regular Muni fare, riders enjoy air conditioning, a more express service, and a less crowded ride (although I’ve observed that their vans can be cramped if you’re beyond a certain height). 

Download from Google Play
Download from iTunes (App Store)

Alternatively, you can sign up using a computer and login with your Facebook account.

San Francisco Muni

In January 2016, San Francisco Muni launched MuniMobile, a more convenient way to purchase and use transit fares, transit passes, and paratransit services. The following features using the MuniMobile app, downloadable below, are as follows:

  • Ability to pay for a single or multiple Muni fares on one mobile device, good for bus, streetcar, Muni Metro, and paratransit (SF Access) vehicles
  • Ability to pay for a single-ride fare, cable car rides, and one-day, three-day, and seven-day Muni Passports (especially crucial for tourists visiting San Francisco)
  • Industry-leading security to protect personal information and payments
  • Responsive eCommerce website for online ticket purchases (http://sfmta.transitsherpa.com) 
  • Trip planner integration


At the moment, however, Monthly Passes and Lifeline Passes are not available on the MuniMobile app; use a regular Clipper card for such passes instead.

​Download from Google Play
Download from iTunes (App Store)

Santa Clara VTA

In January 2016, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority introduced the FLEX service, an on-demand, shared public transportation service being tested in North San Jose as a pilot program. It connects transit stops (with a focus at Tasman VTA Light Rail station) with high-density employment centers and retail centers that prioritizes a rider’s time by minimizing wait times. While FLEX does not have a fixed route or fixed schedules, it provides:

  • Better access to transit by shortening or eliminating the distance a rider needs to walk to access a transit stop
  • The flexibility of allowing other riders that have similar travel destinations to be picked up and dropped off during the course of your ride 

Service details are as follows:

  • It operates weekdays only from 5:30am to 8:30pm.
    • AM Peak: 5:30am to 9:30am
    • PM Peak: 3:30pm to 7:30pm
    • All rides must be completed by 8:30pm at the latest.
  • The service area is roughly 3.25 square miles, with boundaries at:
    • CA-237 to the north
    • Montague Expressway to the south
    • Coyote Creek to the east
    • Guadalupe River to the west 
  • The fares are:
    • $3.00 during the peaks
    • $2.00 during the off-peaks

Download from Google Play
Download from iTunes (App Store)

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