E-fare, possible pay changes coming for Rapid riders

The Rapid Central Station in downtown Grand Rapids. (File photo)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Rapid will be making some changes that will allow Kent County riders to board faster.

The bus system will be adding e-fare, which comes with two pass options.

“One thing is a smart card. You can use that to board – that’s going to be a lot quicker for people because you’ll be able to just tap it when you get on the bus, you don’t need to insert your card in anything. It doesn’t have to read anything, it’s just a quick tap and then you can sit down,” said Jennifer Kalczuk with The Rapid.

The transit organization will also allow riders to pull up their ticket on their cellphone so drivers can scan the bar code.

The changes are good news to riders who lose their card or paper ticket. Right now, they’re out whatever money was loaded onto the card or ticket; with the more durable smart card, that won’t happen.

“If you lose it, because it has a unique number, you won’t ever lose the value. We can turn that original card off and then issue a new card and transfer the value right over,” explained Kalczuk.

Riders will also have an online profile they can set up to manage their e-fare. From that profile, riders can add money to their account and set up automatic fund transfers when their account drops to a certain level.

The Rapid says the changes will be gradual. The transit group will start installing card readers on buses this summer; testing will begin in the fall with the hope of completely rolling out the system by early next year.

“We want everyone to feel confident and we want to be confident that when we roll this out that it’s ready to go and will work smoothly,” said Kalczuk.

The Rapid is also proposing changing its fare structure, potentially eliminating up-front costs for a fixed number of rides.

“With this new way, you would pay as you go. So you would start paying that $1.75 per ride. After two rides in one day, you would have earned a one-day pass, so any other ride you took that day would be paid for. So unlimited rides for the rest of that day – just the same as you would have (if you) bought a one-day pass,” explained Kalczuk.

The Rapid will accept cash payments from riders.

Riders can weigh in on the e-fare system and potential fare structure change at any of the following public meetings:

Fare Structure Change Meeting #1 at Rapid Central Station
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Central Station, Second Floor Community Room
250 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fare Structure Change Meeting #2 at Rapid Central Station
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
7 a.m. – 8 a.m.
Central Station, Second Floor Community Room
250 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fare Structure Change Meeting at Kentwood City Hall
Thursday, April 20, 2017
4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Kentwood City Hall, City Chamber
4900 Breton Ave SE, Kentwood, MI 49508

Fare Structure Change Meeting at Grandville Library
Monday, April 24, 2017
7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Kent District Library – Grandville Branch
4055 Maple St SW, Grandville, MI 49418

Fare Structure Change Meeting at Walker City Hall
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Walker City Hall, Commission Chambers
4243 Remembrance Rd NW, Walker, MI 49534

Fare Structure Change Meeting at Wyoming Library
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Kent District Library – Wyoming Branch, Library Meeting Room B
3350 Michael Ave SW, Wyoming, MI 49509

Fare Structure Change Meeting at East Grand Rapids Community Center
Thursday, April 27, 2017
1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
East Grand Rapids Community Center
750 Lakeside Dr. SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506