UEA to launch virtual bus pass app

Sick of losing your bus pass? Fear not – UEA has announced the launch of a new “virtual bus pass”

UEA has announced that it will be launching a new app designed for purchasing and storing bus passes.

From June 1, UEA students and staff will be able to purchase bus tickets on their smartphones via a new app called “First Mobile Tickets”. This means that UEA customers who wish to purchase a 3 month, annual zone 1-5, annual network, or the trio bus pass will no longer need to complete a paper based application.

It also means that no photo is needed for the application, and there will be no need to queue during the first week of term to purchase passes. Students will be able to buy tickets before they even arrive on campus, so affordable bus travel can be experienced from day one at UEA.

Bus services such as the 25 will be using the new ‘mticket’ system.

The “First Mobile Ticket App” is available for free on the App Store and on Google Play, and its tickets purchasing seems simple enough: register, select the desired ticket and then navigate the payment system. Best of all is the fact that once bought, the tickets can be found in a virtual wallet ready for the customer to show the bus driver.

Dawn Dewar, Transport Coordinator for UEA said: “We are very pleased to have been able to work in partnership with First Bus to develop this app. The use of smartphones and apps is very much the way in which our students are used to communicating and buying goods so it makes perfect sense to provide a platform that suits their lifestyle. Furthermore, we are the first University to launch an mticket so this is very exciting.”

Could the 'mticket' mean more people will use buses?

Could the ‘mticket’ mean more people will use buses?

Economics student Tom Whittingham said that “With the thought of second year looming and the luxury of rolling from my on campus bed at unearthly hours to lectures diminishing, having a cheaper more convenient mticket on my phone makes the prospect of being a bus wanker next year that little bit less sour. And c’mon, saving £35? That’s at least 5 extra takeaways for the year!”

UEA will launch its ‘mticket’ app on June 1.

However, there are issues involved and not everyone is as excited. The app is only available on iOS and Android, meaning Windows and Blackberry phones (almost 20% of smartphones) won’t be able to access the ‘mticket’.

UEA’s Community and Student Rights Officer, Bintu Foday, informed us that “Whilst we welcome the move towards new technology, it’s just unacceptable that those without certain types of smartphone will have to pay up to £35 more than others for a bus pass – especially when these are students likely to have the lowest incomes.

“There are also unanswered questions for when students’ phone batteries go flat. We call on UEA and Firstbus to abolish the extra fee for a paper ticket and ensure that proper consultation with the Union is carried out in the future.”

What do you think? Is the ‘mticket’ a good idea or will it lead to more problems? Let us know in comments below!