Tixora uses $10,000 prize to test digital bus tickets

Project Pitch It

When the Milwaukee County Transit System was seeking a more efficient ticketing system for its 300,000 annual Summerfest riders, it turned to Milwaukee startup Tixora LLC to develop a digital solution. And when it was seeking a mobile app, Tixora developed that, too.

Now, Tixora is working to expand its mobile ticketing technologies to other public transit providers. Tixora is planning to launch a universal app that allows the user to plan a trip, see routes and buy a bus ticket on his or her mobile device.

The Ride MCTS app Tixora developed for Milwaukee County Transit System.

Aaron Redlich, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tixora, demonstrated the app to a panel of Milwaukee-area business moguls on entrepreneurship pitch show “Project Pitch It” on WISN-TV Channel 12. The moguls awarded Tixora $10,000 to pilot mobile ticket scanner prototypes on buses.

Since the show aired in the spring, Tixora has tested several scanner systems and is now in the advanced stages with several bus organizations on deploying the hardware to their fleet systems in early 2019, Redlich said.

“There are numerous systems around Wisconsin that have shown interest,” he said.

The systems Tixora tested are both tablet interfaces that would scan a QR code on the rider’s phone, and a Bluetooth beacon. While the Bluetooth beacon is less expensive and easier to install on buses, it doesn’t have all the functionality of a tablet interface, Redlich said.

Tixora’s mobile app is free to users, and the transit system pays a monthly subscription fee. The startup developed the app via a pilot program with the Milwaukee County Transit System through which it managed the MCTS Summerfest shuttle Pre>Fare ticketing system over the past three years.

The majority of bus riders have smartphones, Redlich said, so this is a way to leverage that technology to make riding the bus more efficient.

“Reducing your reliance on cash fares is a very forward-thinking way to manage a transit system,” he said.

Tixora’s Ride MCTS app is the top-ranked mobile ticketing app in North America, and just hit 50,000 downloads, Redlich said.

“We are the first company to really beautifully merge the world of real-time trip planning…and buying your ticket in the same app,” he said.

“It’s worked as expected,” said Brendan Conway, chief marketing and communications officer at MCTS. “The usage is pretty incredible.”

MCTS currently uses visual verification to accept mobile tickets, but the installation of mobile scanners would make the process even more efficient, Conway said.

“It opens up a whole world of possibilities. We could get more data on where riders are getting on and off,” he said.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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