After months of development, San Antonio's VIA Metropolitan Transit released its new mobile app for smartphones today. It's called goMobile and they hope it will draw new riders and help existing ones.
There is an element of outreach for the new goMobile app. San Antonio is one of the most economically segregated cities in the country, and many of VIA's riders are low income.
VIA Vice President of Technology Steve Young says that their ridership is increasingly connected though.
"We're averaging 28-30 thousand users a week on our VIA Wi-Fi, so quite a number of people are using it," says young.
VIA's goMobile app will capitalize on that same group of people, which Young says does skew younger than their traditional ridership. He also believes all users will quickly see the value.
According to VIA, The app allows riders to plan trips using multiple routes eliminating the need for transfer cards. Users will be able to get on the bus and show the digital ticket through their phone.
The app also allows riders to coordinate services with ride hailing companies like Lyft or the city's B-Cycle bike rental program within the app.
Jerry Chrisner is sitting on a bench near the goMobile launch celebration at Travis Park downtown.
He's 57 years old and doesn't drive a car. He isn't what you would think of as an early adopter, but when approached is using the app. For him, the in-app purchasing of tickets and monthly passes will save him time, "because I won't have to be going to HEB, buying a pass every month, If can be able to do it on my phone."
VIA contracted with Moovel North America to build the app. Moovel is working with 11 other cities on public transit mobile apps says Moovel VP Tony Tom.
"In my mind, it's for everyone," says Tom in response to a question about who he thinks will use goMobile.
Tom says the app can be used by people with low vision, and that the ubiquity of smart phones is starting to address the digital divide among users.
VIA says they don't know what to expect yet on how quickly people will adopt the new app. Steve Young says these apps are new in several cities and many don't compare with San Antonio.
Dallas and Houston both have mobile, public transportation apps.