A woman walks past a 22-Fillmore Muni bus in San Francisco, on April 18, 2017. (James Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SFMTA owes app developer more than $300K in commissions

The City’s transportation agency owes far more money than expected to the developer of its Muni-ticket app after underestimating how many fares the agency would sell.

MuniMobile, which lets users buy Muni tickets and multi-day passes on their phones, will cost The City at least an additional $312,500. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved Tuesday a total contract of $455,000 to moovel, MuniMobile’s app developer, to cover the unanticipated commission fees.

About 215,000 people downloaded the MuniMobile app, according to the SFMTA, resulting in The City agency owing more than four times the original contract, though many of those downloads came from tourists. In December, only 43,000 users purchased fares on the app, and the SFMTA told the San Francisco Examiner the remaining 160,000 or so additional app downloads came from tourists buying visitor passes.

The City projected the amount it would owe moovel in commission to cap out at $95,000 when it signed the contract in October 2014, but voted to extend that cap to $455,000 to cushion commission fees through October 2018.

The City pays 4 percent in commission to moovel for every fare purchased, according to SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. MuniMobile sold $3.7 million in fares during 2017, which may garner at least $150,000 for the app developer.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the agency may not always pay a commission to app developers for ticket sales.

“There may be other economic models that work better for the agency, we’ll see what the market has to give to us,” Reisken told the Examiner on Tuesday. “If it’s less costly to the agency, that would be great, but we benefit in any case by making it more accessible to folks … so it’s worth the expense.”

MuniMobile is targeting new ads at boarding areas with high cash-ticket purchases, according to the SFMTA. Sales in fareboxes have dropped in the last year as MuniMobile and Clipper fare purchases have grown steadily.

The app’s developer, Germany-based moovel, will see its contract expire in October. The SFMTA said it’s seeking local app developers for its next contract.

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