GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Rapid in Grand Rapids is hoping more passengers will ride “The Wave” beginning Tuesday.

The e-fare payment system will be an option for all riders starting Tuesday morning. 

The Rapid had been pilot testing The Wave with nearly 200 riders for close to a year. 

It will be the first mass transit system in Michigan to utilize this technology, which includes a smart card and mobile ticketing app for riders.


The system is simple: The rider holds their smartphone with a bar code under a reader or they hold their Wave card up to a sensor, wait for it to process, then board.

The Rapid says the system speeds up boarding, improving bus stop punctuality.


Riders will be able to pick up Wave cards at The Rapid Central Station in downtown Grand Rapids. The Rapid will issue them free of charge on Tuesday; eventually they will cost $3. 

Unlike the current system, The Wave will be account based, meaning riders won’t lose their money if they lose their Wave card. They will need to replace their card for a small fee.

Riders who register their card can also connect it to a bank account, so if their account balance gets low, it will automatically pull money over to pay for fares.

Riders who don’t opt in can keep paying with cash.


The Rapid is also introducing a capped fare system with the Wave card, which allows riders to buy a monthly pass one ride at a time and never spend more than the price of a monthly pass.

The Rapid said the fare change will also reduce printing and maintenance costs while curbing paper ticket waste. Right now, The Rapid prints millions of tickets a year, as well as 1.7 million transfer tickets, 3,000 of which are never used.



The Wave