UTD’s Parking and Transportation Department will implement an electronic student Dallas Area Rapid Transit pass that will be available as a mobile phone app, replacing the existing physical sticker placed on Comet Cards.
All actively enrolled UTD students are eligible for free annual DART passes through the UTD Auxiliary Services website. Cris Aquino, director of UTD Parking and Transportation, said his department is currently working with DART to improve the system by giving students the option to have passes on their phones.
Available for both Android and iPhones, the DART GoPass app will allow students not only to access their DART passes electronically, but also to plan trips, said Rebecca Maples, a DART account executive. Maples said the app has been redesigned to include better security measures and other features to make traveling more convenient.
“(One) of the other features (is) you can now choose your favorite rail station,” Maples said. “When you first open it up, you’ve got those options there. You’ve got better trip planning, and maps, and more security on the credit usage when you buy the pass.”
Maples said DART is recruiting other DFW-area colleges to the GoPass system, and — though the GoPass mobile app has been in use by DART for approximately six years — UTD has only recently started the process of implementing the GoPass system, joining others such as Southern Methodist University, UT Southwestern, University of North Texas Dallas College of Law and the Dallas County Community College District.
Aqunio said UTD is tentatively planning to complete GoPass integration by the end of the spring semester.
Until that time, according to the Auxiliary Services website, students will continue to be provided the stickers to verify their possession of a pass. Additionally, Aquino said, even after the GoPass app is available to students, the stickers will continue to remain an alternative.
“One challenge right now with the plastic sticker (is) the user can lose the pass,” Aquino said. “And you may say, ‘Well, somebody can lose their phone.’ But, you know, if they get another phone, they can just download the app and be up and running. That’s one of the main benefits right there.”
The process of requesting an electronic pass will remain similar to the current one. Students will log into the parking portal with their credentials and request a pass, though there a few key differences.
Aquino said it can often be a challenge to process students’ pass requests quickly, particularly because they receive most requests at the beginning of the calendar year, just as the university reopens.
“They’ll have access to their pass in a short period of time,” Aquino said. “There will (be) some process of time, of course, because we still need to send (the student’s) information to DART, DART will need to upload it to their system and ‘turn on’ that request, for lack of a better term. But the process in time will be reduced significantly.”