As a power wheelchair user, my private transportation options are often very limited. When visiting a city, I always study the public transportation systems and how to get around in a way that is both affordable and accessible. This is why a detailed account of accessible public transit is part of every wheelchair travel guide on this website.
If you're a tourist using public transportation, weekly (or monthly) unlimited passes may not make the most economic sense. If you're anything like me, you don't like to waste money. Every dollar saved is a dollar towards your next accessible vacation. But, if you have to use a ticket vending machine every time you need a transit ticket, buying a one-off pass will save you a great deal of trouble.
On a recent trip to Dallas, Texas, I discovered that public transportation agency, DART, is allowing everyone - including disabled travelers - to leverage the power of their smartphone to reduce stress and save time and money. The GoPass mobile app, available on iPhone and Android, makes using public transportation in Dallas easier than ever.
Among the top features are the ability to purchase and manage tickets and passes, plan an accessible journey using the trip planner, save itineraries and check on the status of your desired train or bus.
Mobile tickets are the future.
I lose my public transport tickets about as often as I misplace my hotel room key cards. Where could they be? Pants, jacket or wheelchair pockets? Under my leg? Who knows.
You're less likely to misplace an expensive mobile phone, though. With airlines and rail operators having issued mobile tickets and boarding passes for quite some time, it's great to see a major city jump on the bandwagon.
Pictured above are screenshots from my mobile phone - a Eurostar train ticket, an American Airlines boarding pass and a Dallas DART day pass.
I use mobile passes for just about everything - including my credit/debit cards, membership cards and tickets for major sporting events and concerts. Smartphones are much more accessible to many of us with a disability, and I am no exception. Many of my blog posts here on WheelchairTravel.org are typed out on my iPhone. Integrating the smartphone into my travel life has made thing so much easier - everything is organized and stored in one place.
Using the Dallas GoPass
The most important benchmark for the accessibility of mobile applications is their ease of use. The Dallas GoPass has an intuitive design, making it easy to figure out and deploy as part of your accessible travel strategy.
The following YouTube video shows the app in action, and gives a peek of what's under the hood:
For me, the greatest thing about the GoPass app was the ability to purchase discounted tickets due to my disability. Fare options and their associated prices are listed below. The standard adult fare is listed in parentheses:
- 2-hour unlimited ride pass, $1.25 ($2.50)
- Single day unlimited ride pass, $2.50 ($5.00)
- Midday unlimited ride pass (9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.), $1.75 ($1.75)
- 7-day unlimited ride pass, $25.00 ($25.00)
- 31-day unlimited ride pass, $40.00 ($80.00)
As you can see, most fares are discounted by 50% off the normal price if you have a qualifying disability. You can read about the requirements for a reduced fare here.
The GoPass app allowed me to easily purchase tickets and passes for public transportation services in and around the City of Dallas, Texas. This meant I could skip the lines at ticket vending machines, protect my credit card and cash from pick-pockets and save money using the reduced disability fare.
I was able to use my GoPass tickets on all forms of public transport - city buses, light rail and the TRE regional trains. No fare is required for the Dallas Streetcar, which runs from Union Station to the Bishop Arts district.
In summary, I believe that the GoPass app has brought about a new way for people with disabilities to get around Dallas in an accessible way. I hope other cities use this as an example to make their public transport systems truly barrier-free, from ticketing to arrival.