San Diego

San Diego Transit Riders Get New Mobile Ticketing Option

The “Compass Cloud” will be available for those who travel via the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD)

Those who depend on public transportation in San Diego now have a new way to buy their transit tickets – on-the-go, at any time.

On Thursday, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD) unveiled “Compass Cloud,” a new mobile ticketing option now available across both transit systems.

Compass Cloud is a free app that can be downloaded onto any iPhone or Android smartphone and can be used to buy daily or monthly transit passes, including tickets for the MTS Rapid, MTS bus, MTS trolley, NCTD Coaster, Sprinter and Breeze.

MTS and NCTD said fares will stay the same, but buying those tickets gets much easier.

For instance, the app allows riders to buy their tickets anytime, anywhere, 24/7. It also allows multiple tickets and passes to be stored and activated on one phone, for families or friends traveling together. Future-use passes can be purchased and stored via the app as well, so riders can have their tickets ready to go as soon as they hop on public transit. This way, they can board much more quickly, without worrying about whether they have enough time to buy their ticket at a physical kiosk and still catch their trolley or bus.

MTS CEO Paul Jablonski said Compass Cloud is designed to give passengers “a new level of convenience to ride transit throughout San Diego County.” Matthew Tucker, NCTD executive director, said the app will be convenient for NCTD riders.

MTS said a recent survey showed more than 85 percent of MTS passengers carry a smartphone. Many said they’d use a mobile ticketing option if it was available.

The app’s features will be rolled out in phases. In this first phase, day passes, 30-day passes and Coaster one-way tickets will be available for adult passengers. Future phases will bring the availability for discounted fares for youth, seniors and disabled passengers.

Of course, riders can still purchase tickets or Compass Cards through the ticket kiosks at transit stations but are urged by MTS to try the app.

Currently, MTS runs 95 bus routes and three trolley lines across 53 miles of railway spanning 10 cities and in unincorporated areas of San Diego County. More than 300,000 riders use the system each day. NCTD provides 12 million passenger trips per year throughout San Diego’s North County and into downtown San Diego.

Circulate San Diego, a nonprofit organization with a mission to advance mobility in San Diego via more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, said the Compass Cloud option is an improvement for public transit in the county, but problems remain.

In a press release, Circulate San Diego said problems remain with the Compass Card -- a smart card needed to board MTS buses and Trolleys.

According to Colin Parent, Policy Counsel for Circulate San Diego, the Compass Card doesn’t have the function of “stored value,” which would allow a transit rider to store funds on a card for future use. Parent said improvement to fix this has been a long time coming. Parent also said the Compass Card does not have the basic level of PCI compliance, which could leave riders vulnerable to fraud.

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