Capital Metro is expected to roll out its first mobile app Oct. 31 in time for the United States Grand Prix and related Formula One events to let visitors and locals know about detours and schedules.
The Capital Metro More Mobile, or M2, app, which will be available for Android smartphones and Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad, will allow users to purchase one- or seven-day passes.
“You can purchase [transit] passes in advance, and once you activate the pass, you show your phone to the [transit] operator. You don't have to have exact change,” Capital Metro spokeswoman Erica Macioge said.
App users also will be able to view maps showing street closures in downtown Austin and a cheat sheet that is geared toward visitors who are not familiar with Capital Metro buses or MetroRail.
The free app is set to be ready to download Oct. 31, but the mobile ticketing feature will only work Nov. 10–24.
Macioge said the idea for having an app ready for F1 began a few months before when the transit authority issued a request for information for a mobile ticketing service. Capital Metro hired Bytemark, a New York City–based company that builds mobile payment systems, to create the app. While Bytemark will be monitoring the app and providing support during F1 week, app users may call Capital Metro's GO Line at 474-1200 if they encounter any issues, Macioge said.
The F1 app will serve as a trial run for Capital Metro, which aims to roll out a permanent mobile ticketing option before MetroRapid, the bus-rapid transit service, starts in 2014, she said.
During Nov. 15–18, several Capital Metro bus routes will be detoured because of F1-related events. Macioge said Capital Metro will be providing a free downtown bus loop that will help visitors and locals get around downtown. The route will loop on 15th, Lavaca, Cesar Chavez, Red River and Seventh streets and San Jacinto Boulevard. Service will run roughly every 15 minutes, depending on traffic, Macioge said.
Routes that will see detours include Route 3 on Burnet and Manchaca roads, the Route 100 Airport Flyer, Route 1 on North Lamar Boulevard and South Congress Avenue, Route 10 on South First and Red River Streets, Route 17 Cesar Chavez and Route 30 Barton Creek Square.
For the bus stops that will be closed, Macioge said Capital Metro will install brightly colored signs with a map and a QR code that smartphone users can scan to receive information on where to catch the nearest bus.
“Formula 1 is going to be an exciting event for our area, but also a significant challenge to our local infrastructure and mobility,” said Linda Watson, Capital Metro president and CEO, in a statement. “That’s why we’ve spent months working with the city, the event organizers and other stakeholders to ensure we have the best plan in place for moving this volume of people efficiently and safely around the city. Aside from a personal helicopter, Capital Metro will be the best option for getting around town during F1 week.”
MetroRail service also will be expanded 10 a.m.–midnight Nov. 17 and 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Nov. 18, which will mark the first time Capital Metro has run rail service on a Sunday, Macioge said.
For more details on detours, schedules and routes, visit www.capmetro.org/f1.