With bike sharing two months away, TriMet links ticketing app to Lyft, car2go

Posted by on May 5th, 2016 at 3:10 pm

A screenshot from TriMet’s ticketing app.

The more seamlessly mobile future we’ve been talking about since November has started to arrive.

On Thursday, TriMet announced that you can now begin the process of hailing a Lyft or reserving a car2go using their TriMet Tickets app.

“More options, including BIKETOWN bike sharing, are expected be included in the future,” the regional transit agency wrote on its website.

This is a milestone for two reasons: first, it seems to be the first time any transit agency in the country has offered this kind of service, which envisions transit users not as monomodal drones who only get around by train or bus but as actual humans who are constantly using different tools for different jobs.

Second, it’s a real-life step (though a small one) toward the vision spelled out by cities like Helsinki to “make car ownership pointless” within a decade by creating a single, connected “mesh” of options that can whisk you around the city as efficiently — more efficiently, actually — as owning a car and taking it everywhere with you.

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The TriMet Tickets app now lets you check to see how far away the nearest Lyft and car2go rides are, then sends you to those apps if you want to complete the purchase. Unfortunately, there isn’t a multimodal trip-planning option. And even more unfortunately, there isn’t a way to book whatever trip you need without downloading three separate apps, creating three separate accounts and entering your credit card information three separate times.

That sort of integration will be a major hurdle. If Portland can score $40 million next month from the federal Smart City Challenge, we’re likely to make a lot of progress toward it.

The new feature isn’t very easy to find in the app. You have to activate the menu and then select “More Rides Nearby,” which is explained only with an icon of a bus and a plus sign.

The app update released this week by Moovel (a very promising Portland-based company that we wrote about last month) also fixes some nagging problems with TriMet Tickets, making it easier to use quickly and efficiently. If the TriMet ticket app’s functionality improves as consistently as its interface has, we’ll be on track for meaningful improvements to mobility in Portland.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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12 Comments
  • Adam H.
    Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    This strikes me as gimmicky. All it does is open the corresponding app. At most, it’s just a handy shortcut, rather than a “seamlessly mobile future”. I’d rather see all these services (including bike share and maybe even Amtrak someday) integrated with the Hop card – no need to worry you won’t be able to get home when your phone battery dies.

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      ethan May 5, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      I agree – I would really like to see the Hop card be usable for bikeshare.

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        Dan G May 6, 2016 at 5:28 pm

        Biketown integration with the Hop card is mentioned in Trimet’s Bike Plan draft. They’re working on it. 🙂

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. May 9, 2016 at 8:44 am

          Great! I also left them a comment about that at the bike plan open house last week.

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    babs May 5, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    So, I’m not against this car-(owner) free utopia here, but I am against TriMet endorsing one particular element of the “sharing” aka “new-capitalization-tool” economy. Lyft, Uber, etc. are just part of the Walmartization of our economy and should not be applauded.

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      J.E. May 6, 2016 at 5:57 am

      As a more user friendly service than traditional cab companies, uber and lyft have done a lot to reduce drunk and impaired driving by offering better options. I think that deserves something.

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        eawrist May 6, 2016 at 7:58 am

        I often avoid taxis not only for financial reasons but because there is no easy way to evaluate them. Lyft asks afterward to rate and comment why you rated. If you give them 3 stars they will never be your driver again. I’ve had a driver plow over curbed concrete median, and I’ve had many other really great people help me with my groceries etc. Some taxi companies are trying to emulate this rating system because of this.

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        Mark May 6, 2016 at 8:08 am

        Uber and Lyft have done very little to reduce distracted driving, as I often see their drivers fiddling with their phones to hook up their next fare. Amateur drivers masquerading as professionals. Not anyone I want to share the road with.

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    kittens May 6, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Total crap. Trimet has jumped the shark. Our public agencies and money being spent helping to promote evil for-profit jerks.

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    Maxadders May 6, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    So TriMet’s official transit ticketing app is now shilling for DaimlerChrysler after GlobeSherpa got bought out by one of their subsidiaries? This is just plain offensive and wrong. One of “The Big Three” is now calling the shots re: how you ride our busses and trains. They’re making millions of dollars in revenue from the partnership agreement, too!

    Anyone else find it a little suspicious that the roll-out of this feature coincided with a ticketing “bug” that made many riders’ fares disappear or become unusable? All I’ve got to go on here is a tin-foil hat, but promoting Lyft or Car2Go while disabling our electronic fares sounds awfully slimy to me.

    Trimet, if you’re reading this: time to pull the plug, back out of the poisoned GlobeSherpa deal and start making your own apps. I won’t send another dollar into the DaimlerChrysler funnel and I hope I’m not the only one who feels so strongly about this conflict of interest.

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      John Lascurettes May 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Chill out. They already issued an update on Wednesday (a day after the update on Tuesday) that restored the tickets you already had.

      Hotfix 1.6.17: Fixed and issue causing active tickets to be lost after update

      That’s the nature of software development. They introduced a bug and they fixed it — pretty damned quick.

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        John Lascurettes May 6, 2016 at 4:59 pm

        Though I agree, providing “convenience” links to other commercial apps that serve as little else than billboard space to us (because there’s zero app integration) is about as close to useless “feature” as you can get. But there was no insidious or dubious plan to hold tickets hostage to garner more customers for Lyft or Car2Go.

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