AUSTIN (KXAN) — It starts with two tech guys who just want to get home after work.
“I wouldn’t know a toll price until I’m ready to get on the toll when I go through the Cesar Chavez entrance,” explains William Kluss.
So he started a search for a solution. “It would really be great to know sooner so maybe I can stay a little later and leave when it’s lower. Worst case, it’s closed and you don’t know and before you know it you’re just stuck on MoPac for the longest time.”
So, he built the Mopac Toll Fare app. “I saw a link posted that had a website that posted the rates online. I thought let me see if I can take the API — the end point — and use that on a mobile app,” says Kluss. “‘Oh yeah I can do this, this is pretty easy.’ So, I decide ‘hey you know what let me go and make a mobile app.'”
That’s when Elliot Chenger jumped on board too. “When Will brought the idea to me and said he was kind of working on an iOS version of it, I was immediately like — this is going to save me tons of time and money,” says Chenger.
The app accesses current toll prices posted on the Central Texas Regional Mobility website and automatically updates any changes.
“That way if I’m not near a computer, at least I have my app with my at all times I can figure out ‘OK it’s pretty cheap to take the express lane right now, let me go and do that,'” explains Kluss.
It took them about a day to build the app and have it up in the App Store. Then they built an Android version.
“People try to commute around the same general times every day. People with kids and other — kind of extracurricular things — they’re trying to plan for in they’re day. We’d like to make a little more convenient for users to figure out exactly when the best time to go home is,” says Chenger.
The app breaks down pricing for each segment of the express lane and it also shows the price difference for drivers with and without a TxTag.
Kluss and Chenger say they want to build in more features, like sending notifications when prices drop. “Understanding when’s the best time to get to where you’re trying to go to the fastest,” says Chenger.
In about the first week since its launch, the MoPac toll fare app has had more than 100 downloads. CTRMA says third parties are permitted to access the data from their website. They also say they may create their own smartphone app, but have no immediate plans.