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The Wave Q&A Series: Why E-Fare?

The Wave Q&A

As we approach the launch of The Wave, The Rapid’s new electronic (e-fare) system, we know there are many questions floating around about what the future holds for fares and tickets for The Rapid. As we approach launch in late spring,  one question we have been hearing quite frequently is why The Rapid is making the switch to e-fare and away from paper tickets.

Why is The Rapid switching to The Wave?

  1. 1. We’re Getting with the Times

While The Rapid is the first Michigan public transportation agency to introduce an e-fare system, this type of fare payment system is used throughout the world. Smart cards, mobile ticketing and most recently, fare capping, are becoming the standard way to pay your fare whether you’re riding the bus in Chicago or the London Underground

  1. 2. It’s Faster & Easier

When using The Wave, you will simply need to tap your card to the reader each time you board. This means you will no longer have to fumble with a paper ticket or deal with cash in the farebox. Wave Cardholders will also have access to a paperless transfer timeframe of 1 hour and 45 minutes (105 minutes). This means that with one tap of The Wave card, you will have 105 minutes of time to ride wherever you’d like, with unlimited transfers—yes, even on the same route.

  1. 3. It Will Save Riders Money

When you ride The Rapid using your Wave card, you automatically earn the savings of 1-Day, 7-Day, and 31-Day passes, but without the commitment or the upfront cost. You pay your way one trip at a time, and you’ll never pay for a trip you don’t take. The Wave will give you the best deal on your fare based on how much you ride. It’s a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pass: Earn a 1-Day pass after riding twice in one day (spending $3.50), or a 31-Day pass after spending $47 in a 31-day period.

All you will need to do is keep money on your card.

  1. 4. It’s Better for the Environment

The Rapid currently prints more than 2.5 million paper tickets each year, including an estimated 300,000 transfers that are never used. The Wave e-fare system features a permanent plastic smart card or the option of using the mobile ticketing for your smartphone.

  1. 5. It’s a More Accessible Option

With The Wave, cardholders can add value to their card anywhere through their smartphone or tablet rather than having to find a ticket vending machine or visit Rapid Central Station to buy a ticket. The Wave will also eventually feature a large network of retailers where you can purchase and /or reload a Wave card.  Retailers will include Meijer, Family Fare, Speedway, CVS and other convenience stores.

  1. 6. More Rider Benefits

Unlike a standard ticket, The Wave offers the benefit of account management to register and add value to multiple cards, see your recent trip history, transactions and deactivate/reactivate if lost or stolen. Wave cardholders also have access to the auto-load feature so you don’t even have to plan when and how you will add money to your card.

Learn more about The Wave by visiting

Written by The Rapid

The Rapid (Interurban Transit Partnership) is the authority that provides a variety of public transportation services for the Grand Rapids metro area and beyond. It is organized and operates under Michigan Public Act 196 of 1986.