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Metro Working on a Fare App and 14 Other Cool Tech Projects

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The Metro Executive Management Committee recently received the report it requested last summer on the top 10 tech innovations that would improve transit users' experiences and access on all modes of public transportation. The report, via The Source, actually has 15 ideas (overachievers!), about half of which are considered "in progress." We already know that cell and WiFi coverage is on the way for the subways, but Metro's also well on its way with a basic phone app that would allow riders to buy a fare via text. (It would only be for an immediate use fare, not a monthly pass, but still a huge advance.) The other half of the ideas are in exploratory phases, but there are some pretty cool things already locked down for Metro riders.

Here are all the potential initiatives from the report (with current status):

-- Install 16 multilingual kiosks, "similar to giant iPads", outfitted with system alert info, trip planning abilities, and maps, at Union Station and other high-volume stations (in progress at Union Station)

-- Develop a basic app that allows for text-based immediate-use fare purchases (but not for monthly pass purchasing) (in progress; pilot program slated to launch in March 2014)

-- Revamp existing Metro apps (in progress)

-- Install signage with real-time bus arrival information (in progress at Patsaouras Plaza)

-- Bring cellular coverage to subway tunnels (in progress)

-- Implement software that can take a real-time look at security footage and point out potential security alerts and fare dodgers (in progress)

-- Outfit all major bus and rail stations with WiFi (in progress for Union Station)

-- Create an advanced smart phone app that will allow TAP cards to be purchased and the phone to be tapped like a card at stations (not funded)

-- Conduct a pilot to test WiFi on buses and rail (not funded)

-- Add real-time wheelchair space and bike rack availability to bus arrival information (not started)

-- Give real-time info on passenger volumes alongside next bus information (not started)

-- Produce instructional transit-riding videos that target non-English speakers and seniors (not started)

-- A traffic app with crowdsourced traffic information from Metro riders who have "opted in" to sharing (investigating)

-- Live video connection to a real human who can help customers at ticket kiosks (investigating)

-- Make the TAP card "like a AAA card" that offers discounts at an expanded network of destinations (investigating)

Though many items on the list are already under way, it's still something of a wishlist. In a move to focus on what they saw as the most important initiatives now, Mayor Garcetti and County Supe/Metro Boardmember Don Knabe filed a motion suggesting that some items be prioritized, including real-time updates (via third-party apps) to riders on the subways, wireless broadband on all modes of transportation and in all stations, and mobile-based ticketing and concierge services (reminders about your train time, etc).
· Motion asks Metro to implement a number of several tech initiatives [The Source]