PalmPass gets your ticket to ride

Forgot your bus pass? Not a problem.

Bryn Jones, an MA student in Kinesiology, has devised a modern solution – a mobile, e-commerce ticketing application allowing transit users to purchase and display bus passes and tickets on their smartphone.

Sick of waiting in long O-Week lineups to pick up his bus pass, one he often left at home in a hurry to get to class, Jones paired up with Software Engineering student Sajjad Haiderali last year and the two developed PalmPass, an app gearing up for its September test run with the London Transit Commission (LTC).

Once available for download, PalmPass will be free and allow users to securely log in, purchase and display, upon boarding, both bus passes and tickets sold by public transportation companies, such as LTC.

The app is convenient and would save both time and resources, Jones said.

Currently, the LTC absorbs high manufacturing and distribution costs for bus passes and tickets, something that would be diminished once the company switches – as it plans to do – to a reloadable SmartCard system such as the one currently in use by the Toronto Transit Commission.

“It’s expensive and it’s old technology, and the (LTC) will probably still go through with it,” Jones said. “But we believe that smartphone payment systems are the future. It’s something that hasn’t really been explored yet but we know is going to be explored. New York is doing this with their ferry system.

“Right now, we’re trying to get everybody on board, to get a partnership.”

Jones and Haiderali are anticipating getting written support for the app from University Students’ Council (USC) this month, something they need in order to get the LTC on board, by showing students, comprising roughly 43 per cent of transit riders in London, plan to use the application. The pair will then negotiate with LTC.

Students are a good test market because they adapt to and are looking for new technologies to make their lives easier, Jones said. That, and most already have smartphones.

The pair has been working with BizInc and TechAlliance to get PalmPass off the ground.

Phase 1 will be a test run, allowing only Western students to try out the new system. The application would sync with the university’s databases so students wouldn’t have to purchase tickets or passes, they would securely log in, and if their fees were paid, their university-issued bus pass would appear on screen.

After a year, Jones and Haiderali would like to expand the application to Londoners taking the bus, and after that, to other cities.