It’s happened to everyone who rides the bus. The person in front spends an eternity fumbling for coins, counting, recounting, arguing with the driver over the fare, then pulls out a huge banknote and wants change. That common, infuriating scene may be about to pass into the realm of bad memories, thanks to a new Israeli app.
It’s pretty simple. HopOn lets passengers just climb aboard, paying their fares through their cellphones. Not only will passengers who want to save time appreciate it, so will the bus companies, saving money by not having to print out receipts and saving gas because waiting times are shorter, said David Mezuman, HopOn’s CEO. The system is in the pilot project stage.
“We use ultrasonic sound to validate passenger fares with payments made by the user’s credit card, registered to the app during the signup process,” said Mezuman, who built the app with partner Ofer Sinai. “The validation is done with a small device that we provide, which is placed at the entrance of the bus, and deducts payment from the credit card as a passenger boards. The driver does nothing except look at the indicator to ensure that the passenger has paid, and the passenger does nothing except walk on the bus.”
HopOn is especially useful in a place like Israel, where drivers make change for passengers. While “considerate” passengers pay their fare with exact change, there is always going to be a passenger who tries to pay a 10 shekel fare with a 200 shekel bill — forcing everyone behind them to cool their heels while the driver searches through his money stash to make change. Even a skilled driver needs a half a minute to conduct such a transaction, so if you have three or four passengers who need to make change, said Mezuman, that’s an extra two minutes spent waiting with the motor running.
Even an “exact change” transaction by an efficient passenger takes 10-20 seconds, as the passenger drops the fare into the slot and waits to get a receipt. “And then you have the ‘grand prize’ scenario, where the driver runs out of change and the passenger has to ask other people if they can break a bill,” said Mezuman. “In that scenario, all bets are off.”