Valley Metro app lets users track real-time bus, light rail data to better plan commutes

I know nothing about this app, but here's a photo of the light rail. (Amanda LaCasse/DD)
Light rail users will be better equipped to handle the Phoenix transit system with a mobile app recently released by Valley Metro, which provides fare options and route information for riders. (Amanda LaCasse/DD)

Valley Metro, which operates Phoenix’s public bus and light-rail system, released a mobile app in February designed to help Arizona residents commute with ease and efficiency through real-time scheduling data.

The app, Ridekick, also lets users view fare options, receive service alerts and bookmark routes, according to Valley Metro.

“It’s designed for anybody who uses the bus and light rail daily to anybody who wants to explore transportation for the first time,” said Valley Metro representative Ann Glaser. “It makes it easier to navigate Valley Metro buses and light rail systems.”

The app has had more than 13,000 downloads since it was released. Ridekick features include an interactive map to track buses, display stops and park-and-ride locations, GPS tracking to customize the users trip efficiently, a list of fares and retailers and the ability to email itineraries.

Valley Metro designers worked with Portland-based GlobeSherpa to create Ridekick.

“We’re making it easier for people to ride transit by making it simple and removing barriers,” said GlobeSherpa Director of Communications Mac Brown. “We wanted to make it easy to know where you are, step-by-step instructors on where you need to go and what are the things around you.”

GlobeSherpa plans to develop mobile ticketing as an app feature, allowing users to buy bus and light rail passes and saving time that would be spent in line at the ticket kiosk, Brown said.

Ashley Incardone, a journalism student at ASU, praised GlobeSherpa’s efforts to develop in-app purchasing.

“It’s easy to miss the rail when everybody gets out of class or work around the same time, close to departing time,” she said. “During the end of the spring or the beginning of the fall it is still hot out, so adapting the ability to purchase tickets in the app would save riders standing time in the heat.”

Incardone said she started using public transportation to save herself time and money.

“I thought buying a car was a good investment until I realized how much I was spending. The amount (of money) I put into my car payment, insurance and gas in a month could buy me U-Passes for my academic career,” she said.

College students can purchase a U-Pass for the academic year for $200 or single rides for $2.

“There was no point in keeping my car because my days are spent either at work or in class, so now I pay less to commute, and I can spend my travel time reviewing work and finding places to eat at for lunch on the app,” she said. “Ridekick created a sense of safety for me because the app allows me to view arrival times and plan trips quickly, which come in handy if I need a ride last minute or if I’m commuting at night.”

Ridekick is available for free on Google Play and the App store.

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