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The Rapid's new e-fare system The Wave debuts August 14

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The Wave has already received rave reviews from pilot testers. The general public will be able to purchase a Wave card at Rapid Central Station or online. Wave cards are just $3 for the card itself and can be reloaded in-person at The Rapid’s Information Center or on the mobile-friendly website.
The Wave is a pay-as-you-go smart card.

The Wave is a pay-as-you-go smart card. /The Rapid

Catch The Wave on August 14, 2018!

Catch The Wave on August 14, 2018! /The Rapid

Adam Williams has two preferred forms of transportation in Grand Rapids: bus and bike.

After a health scare in 2012 when he was 39, Williams took on active transportation as a simple step to improving his health. Today, riding the bus is one of his main forms of transportation and when Williams isn’t pedaling his way around Grand Rapids, he’s riding The Rapid to get to work and run errands.

So Williams was delighted to serve for the past year as a volunteer pilot-tester of The Wave, the new electronic fare (e-fare) system that The Rapid is formally introducing to Greater Grand Rapids with sales starting Tuesday, August 14.

"The Wave washes away the hassle of using public transportation," said Williams.

“Now I can just tap when I board and the system does the thinking—like in a ‘real’ city,” said Williams. “With The Wave’s ability to manage multiple cards under one account, I feel the system has leap-frogged the e-fare systems in cities like Chicago in terms of ease of use for families.”

Last fall, Williams found out The Rapid was seeking pilot testers for The Wave. The Rapid chose him as one of Greater Grand Rapids’ more than 200 pilot testers in recognition that his almost daily trips on the bus would become a crucial element of ensuring The Wave was viable for full public launch.  

The hardest part of his volunteer job? Answering questions from curious passengers who observed him utilizing the new technology.

“That (displaying debit-card template) became my go-to explanation when talking with other passengers that ask about my Wave card,” he laughed.

Williams has been thrilled with the ease that his Wave card has brought to his daily trips on the bus. He shared that he no longer contemplates his week planning for a pass purchase or have cash on hand to pay his fare or purchase a fare card. Prior to testing The Wave, Williams generally used 10-Ride tickets because that purchase fit his ridership schedule a bit more than a standard weekly or monthly pass.

Thanks to Wave pilot testers like Williams, The Rapid is ready to launch The Wave to the public on Tuesday, August 14, 2018. The general public will be able to purchase a Wave card at Rapid Central Station or online. Wave cards are just $3 for the card itself and can be reloaded in-person at The Rapid’s Information Center or on the mobile-friendly Wave website.

The Rapid is the first Michigan public transportation agency to introduce this innovative e-fare payment system.

Here is what you need to know:


Say goodbye to paper tickets or struggling to find the exact fare. With The Wave, you’ll simply need to touch your card to the reader every time you board or transfer. There will be Wave readers on every bus and at every Silver Line Station. This means faster boarding times and no fussing with the farebox.


When you ride The Rapid using your Wave card, you can get the savings of daily, weekly and monthly 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 day pass after riding twice in one day, or a monthly pass after riding twice a day for 20 days.

In other words, once you’ve reached the cost of a monthly pass, you’ll receive unlimited rides for the rest of the 31-day period. So everyone gets the savings of a pass without the upfront cost.


Top off your account anywhere, anytime using The Wave's mobile-friendly website or by visiting the Information Center at Rapid Central Station. You can also use the auto-load feature to add funds when your balance is low!

It’s simple. Once you add a payment method to your account, just choose the balance amount you want auto-load to kick in at and then select the amount you want to add to your Wave card.


You can quickly register your card and set up a funding source using our mobile-friendly website. Your Wave account allows you to manage multiple cards, see a history of your recent trips and transactions, and deactivate/reactivate a lost or stolen card. And don’t forget to set up auto-load, so you’re never stuck without fare.

Learn more about The Wave here

Don’t forget, cash will always be an accepted payment method on board the bus and there is no fare increase involved with e-fare.

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