Laketran resumes fare collection Oct. 1 with new safe way to pay

Sept. 25, 2020
Fare collection resumes with new technology and national partnerships with Uber, Transit and Moovit in place creating a safer and more convenient way to pay a bus fare.

Laketran has added electronic validators onboard its vehicles to create a safe, contactless way for riders to pay their fare, which comes a year after the agency launched the EZfare app that allows bus riders to buy and store bus passes on their smartphones.

This news comes in addition to Laketran endorsing the Uber, Transit and Moovit urban mobility apps which allow riders to plan, pay and navigate public transit journeys through one app.

“The validators will remove the bus driver from the fare payment process, encouraging social distancing while boarding and avoiding the need for passengers to handle cash or touch the fare box,” explains Laketran CEO Ben Capelle. “There will be no exchange of cash or tickets when passengers pay with EZfare.” 

While the validators were another step towards Laketran’s long-term goal to remove fare boxes from their buses, they have also proven to be a strategy to keep employees and customers safe while on public transportation. 

Laketran installed the validators on their Local Route and Park-n-Ride fleets and transitioned its door-to-door Dial-a-Ride service to prepaid service earlier this year. 

“Our current fare boxes are almost 12-years old and we are saving $12,000 per bus by replacing the fare box with a validator," said Capelle. "We now realize the decision to add validators and move to a prepaid service for Dial-a-Ride was not just a good financial decision, but also one that promotes safety. Previously, many of our operators had to assist seniors and people with disabilities in paying their bus fare or using the fare box. Now that payment is handled online or over the phone, allowing for more distancing onboard.”

While on a six-month fare suspension due to COVID-19, Laketran collaborated with national mobility apps Uber, Transit and Moovit to offer a digital way to plan and pay for transit trips using one app. The three urban mobility apps have integrated the EZfare payment technology into their apps. 

Transit and Moovit provide a trip planner and real-time arrival information so that users know exactly when their bus is arriving. Moovit provides a live directions feature and alerts when to get off the bus to provide step-by-step guidance for the entire journey. Uber now displays transit options and costs when a user requests a ride. When a user chooses the transit option, real-time route information is displayed and then seamlessly continues to EZfare for payment. 

“With Laketran appearing in these apps, it will improve people’s awareness of our services,” said Capelle. “And with a transit option now available in Uber, I hope people who wouldn’t regularly consider transit will realize how easy and affordable it can be.” 

Whether transit riders purchase their fare through Uber, Transit, Moovit or directly with EZfare, each app will easily validate the fare purchase using the onboard validators. The validators will also provide Laketran with more data on fare collection, ridership and origins of travel. 

To promote the use of EZfare, Laketran is offering a Buy One Get One fare promotion for the month of October. The agency will give transit customers one free bus pass for every pass purchased using EZfare or a partner app throughout October. The free ticket will appear in the customer’s digital wallet within their app of choice. 

EZfare is delivered by NEORide, a council of governments comprised of 15 transit agencies, and Masabi, who helped secure the national partnerships and funding for validators. Laketran was one of 10 Northeast Ohio transit agencies to receive $3.3 million in grant funds from Ohio Department of Transportation's Ohio Transit Partnership Program to pay for the app’s development and validators. 

With Capelle as president of NEORide, EZfare has expanded to serve a tri-state region including Kentucky and Michigan transit systems. 

Laketran will continue to accept cash, bus passes and SmartCard as fare payment, but encourages customers to use EZfare as a safer way to pay during the coronavirus pandemic. Laketran installed safety barriers inside transit buses to provide a safe space between bus drivers and passengers boarding. Laketran also installed PPE stations onboard buses offering free masks and hand sanitizer.