TARTA plots cashless future; approves fare-free policy through July 2022

Dec. 27, 2021
The authority is still finalizing what its fare structure will look like in August 2022, but plans to implement a cashless card system no later than 2024.

The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) Board of Trustees approved the extension of the authority’s fare-free policy through July 31, 2022. The policy was designed to keep passengers and employees safe during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue as a way to help them economically from the pandemic.

“For many of our customers, TARTA remains the only option for them to reach work and medical appointments,” said TARTA CEO Laura Koprowski. “We have seen how the fare-free policy has benefited the public in general as well, by allowing more people to compete for the jobs available in the area and helping businesses, which are also struggling to hire and maintain a workforce.

She continued, “While suspending fares is not a practice we can continue indefinitely, we are pleased to be able to offer a safe transportation option and help more people take advantage of the opportunities that exist in northwest Ohio.”

TARTA is still determining how fares will be structured when collection does resume on Aug. 1, 2022. A cashless card system would be implemented 12-to-24 months later, with plans in motion to help customers make the transition.

The authority explains a transition to a cashless fare system is the next step in a continued organizational transformation for TARTA, which will expand service to cover all of Lucas County and implement its first system-wide redesign in decades before the end of 2022.

The plan approved by TARTA’s board calls for the transit system to develop fare cards, which could be refilled with cash before boarding at TARTA facilities and other area stores and locations.

“Every change we have planned for our fare system is geared toward making TARTA faster and more efficient,” Koprowski said. “Eliminating cash fares will make every trip easier for customers and TARTA personnel alike, and we look forward to preparing all of our riders to make this change.”

Customers who wished to pay for rides without cash on TARTA and TARPS vehicles before the pandemic could already do so using the EZfare app. TARTA plans to continue accepting payments through EZfare, and replace fare collection boxes on fixed-route vehicles by August 2022 with those capable accepting both cash and virtual payments.

“Years of underfunding have left us behind the rest of the industry in terms of technological advancements, to the detriment of our customers. Going to a cashless fare system is something that public transit passengers around the state and the nation have already seen the benefits of. We are happy to put plans in motion to give our riders those benefits, as well,” said Koprowski.

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