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Greater Cleveland RTA partners with EZfare for digital fare collection, ticketing

Posted at 1:48 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 13:48:09-04

CLEVELAND — The Greater Cleveland RTA is getting on board with mobile ticketing partner EZfare.

Transit riders are now able to purchase single, all-day, weekly, or monthly fares on the EZfare app, which replaces the system's previous mobile ticketing option.

“Partnered with Transit App, you can see when your bus or your train is going to arrive,” said GCRTA director of intelligent transportation systems Michael Lively. “From start to finish you have an entirely connected trip."

GCRTA joins eight other regional transit agencies throughout Northeast Ohio including Laketran, METRO RTA in Akron, SARTA in Stark county and PARTA in Portage County.

“The technology continues to grow. With the system we bought, not only does your phone work and smart cards, it can be expanded to Google Pay and Apple Pay. The future is very bright when it comes to fare collection,” Lively said.

RTA will begin installing the validators on transit vehicles later this month. The technology will be equipped on 350 fixed route vehicles, 81 para-transit vehicles and 32 rail cars, and be fully functional by this fall.

“If we wanted to replace our entire fare collection system, it’s anywhere between $15-20 million. It’s a lot of equipment on a lot of vehicles,” Lively said. “A system like this where it’s low cost, it’s about $1-1.2 million. So, it’s a significant cost savings.”

For transit riders who don’t have a smartphone, RTA will be issuing free smart cards to passengers who want them. The smart cards can be loaded with funds and utilized on all RTA vehicles.

The new system will also allow for fare capping, which means that riders will never pay more than what a daily, weekly or monthly pass costs.

“You never pay more than what any other passenger would if you don’t have the money upfront to buy a pass,” Lively said. “If you’re paying $5 daily, you’re going to pay the same price as someone who bought a monthly pass weeks prior.”

The technology upgrade comes as RTA has seen a surge in ridership as gas prices continue to hit record highs, causing more and more commuters to turn to public transit.

“Another benefit of using EZfare, is you can use a digital wallet,” Lively said. “You can use it with Uber, Lyft, RTA. No matter what your commute is around the region, that digital wallet will allow you to utilize those funds.”

Until the validators are installed, riders who purchased a fare through the EZfare app can simply show the QR code on their phone to any RTA operator to board.

Lively said he expects the fare capping system to be implemented by early 2023.

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