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We Sort Of Tried The New App Where You Can Pay For Bus Tickets On Your Phone

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We tried the new app that allows you to pay for bus rides with your phone—sort of. LA Mobile is a new app available for Android and iOS that allows you to purchase rides on the bus using your phone. The simple-to-use app comes from a collaboration between LADOT and GlobeSherpa, a tech company from Portland, Streetsblog reports. The app allows you to pay via Paypal or credit card for future bus rides, then access and use these tickets with your phone when boarding the bus.

One important thing to note is that this technology is not available for Metro buses. For those buses, you will still need to use your TAP cards. This app will only work for DASH and Commuter Express rides. You must pay for a minimum of 20 trips per use, which will cost you $10 for the DASH.

We decided to try out the app for ourselves. Now, I'm a dedicated Metro user. I drive maybe once a month, but ride the train and the bus several times a week. In all this time, I have never once used the DASH bus because I never have quarters and I can't use my TAP on it. (Editor's Note: You can use a TAP, but not a Metro Day Pass, which I use a lot.) Being able to use my phone to purchase tickets on the fly would greatly increase my usage.

It was a little hard for me to find in the app store using my iPhone. I typed in LA Mobile and got a bunch of totally unrelated apps. I then typed in LA Mobile app to Google and it suggested I was looking for the LA Fitness mobile app. Finally, I ended up typing this link into my phone's browser and was able to navigate to the download option in the app store from there.

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Buying tickets was extremely easy. I linked my PayPal account to the app and bought 20 DASH tickets for $10. There were zero problems here, and it took less than a minute to do. There are options for Commuter Express tickets and these vary based on zone.

While the DASH isn't as expansive as Metro, of course, it is a convenient way to shuttle around neighborhoods (particularly downtown). You can see the DASH schedule here. You can see the schedule for the Commuter Express, which as the name suggests is great for commuters particularly from the burbs, here.

I decided to test it out: I waited for about 10 minutes at the stop at Broadway and Chinatown. I saw a DASH stop at the bus stop across the street and hit the crosswalk button about 20 times in an attempt to will the light to change before the bus left. This was not successful. About five minutes later, I saw another DASH approach on my side of the street. I tapped on my available tickets in the app, and said yes, I would like to use my ticket now. A cute animation of a bus cruising down palm tree lined streets popped up.

Then the DASH did not stop. I made one of those, "are you kidding me?!" gestures. That was also not successful.

I then texted my stop number to 41411, as the bus stop suggests you do if you would like to know when the next bus is coming. I was informed I would have to wait another 33 minutes. TOO LONG. Also, when I returned to the screen that displayed my available tickets, it was grayed out with a "loading" message that never stopped. I had to restart the app to get it to work again.

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It appears that once you click "yes," you'd like to use the ticket, you only have a few minutes to show the ticket to a driver. The driver will accept the animation as fare. If you are not sure that your driver is going to stop, you should probably hold off on that because you will lose unused tickets as I did.

Yusuf Robb, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the larger Metro system is asking for bids from companies to work on connecting the TAP system to a mobile device, too. LA Weekly speculates, logically, that GlobeSherpa might take on this task.

Verdict: Even though I did not successfully use this app, I imagine that it would have worked had the bus stopped. And if that's the case, then this is a super convenient bus option for the daily commuter, or the casual user who just wants to go a short distance in their neighborhood without worrying about parking.