Capital Metro is prepping for the traffic nightmare that’s likely to be Formula 1 weekend in Austin.
The transit company will be offering a free shuttle loop around downtown to help visitors and Austinites navigate road closures. Cap Metro will also increase trips to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, for race fans coming into town and locals heading out to avoid the mayhem. And, for the first time ever, MetroRail will operate on a Sunday.
But what may be most interesting to those who rely regularly on Capital Metro service is that the company is debuting a mobile ticketing app for use during F1.
M² (pronounced M-squared) stands for More Mobile App. Starting Oct. 31, the free app will be available in the Apple Store and in Google Play. While the specifics of how the app will work aren’t yet clear – Cap Metro’s description only says “Operators may request you to tap the screen to confirm pass authenticity” – riders will be able to purchase and use one-day or seven-day passes on their phones.
The idea is that this mobile ticketing will speed boarding and make it easier for people to purchase passes before getting on board—hopefully helping services to run on time. But, for now, it will only be available for use from Nov. 10 to Nov. 24.
“Right now it’s just a demonstration project because we want to make sure that it works properly before we roll it out for use all the time,” Capital Metro Spokesperson Erica Macioge says.
Capital Metro has also committed to using the mobile service, developed by Bytemark, during this year’s South by Southwest festival. Macioge says after that, regular users could see a permanent app.
“We are looking for a permanent mobile ticket and fare payment solution that could be implemented on all of our fleet of buses and trains and especially when we bring MetroRapid on board in 2014,” Macioge says. “So we’re trying this out for now and there may be a permanent solution down the line. And it may look like this app or it may be something different. So, we’ll have to see.”
The first incarnation of the app will also feature a trip planner, route maps and other F1 and city information.