Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why The Wave Card?
The Wave makes riding easier, faster and more convenient — benefiting riders and operators.
- Fast and easy fare payment
- No paper tickets or exact change required
- Save money by always getting the best fare
- Added benefits for frequent riders
- Load anywhere
- Manage your account
Does The Wave card cost money?
A Wave card costs $3.
Do all riders have to use The Wave?
No, riders can still pay with cash on buses. However, eventually, those paying cash fares will no longer have access to free transfers.
What about passes?
Savvy riders know that daily, seven-day and monthly passes are the convenient and cost-effective way to ride The Rapid. But making the most of a monthly pass can take planning, and there’s an upfront cost.
With The Wave, everyone will get the benefits of passes, and there’s no need to pay in advance. You’ll pay your way to a pass, one trip at a time.
Should I register?
Registering for The Wave will give you access to benefits like balance protection, in case you lose your card, and auto-load, which means you’ll never be stuck without fare.
Registration can be done online or by using the mobile app.
Can someone use a Wave card without registering?
Yes, but they won’t have access to all of The Wave’s features, such as balance protection and auto-load.
Can people get Wave cards at ticket vending machines?
Not at this time. We are working to make Wave cards available at ticket vending machines in the future.
Can I set up The Wave to automatically add money to my card when my balance is low?
When you register your Wave card, you can set up auto-load, which puts money on your Wave card whenever your balance dips below the amount of your choosing.
Do you need a smartphone or internet to use The Wave?
No. Wave cards can be reloaded at the Information Central at Rapid Central Station. We are working on launching our retail network with reloads available at grocery and convenience stores.
You still take cash, right?
Absolutely— eventually you’ll be able to purchase The Wave card using cash within our retail network of supermarkets, convenience stores and more. And if you don’t have a card, you’ll still be able to use cash on buses — just like today — but you’ll miss out on Wave benefits like automatic reloading and paying your way toward a 31-Day Pass.
This means riders without a bank account can use The Wave, too.
When do I need to tap my card?
You’ll need to tap your card or phone to the reader every time you board or transfer. Don’t worry, tapping doesn’t necessarily mean paying — The Wave card won’t charge you if you have a valid fare or you’re within your transfer timeframe.
How does The Wave work with multiple family members?
Each person must have their own Wave card. However, one person can manage multiple cards at a part of their Wave account.
Can I see how much money/time remains on my card?
You can see how much money/time is remaining on your ride on wave.ridetherapid.org or at Rapid Central Station. The green check you see when you tap to board and transfer means you're good to go (you won’t necessarily pay every time you tap).
Is there a minimum amount to put onto a Wave account?
The minimum amount to load onto a Wave account is $5, except at the Information Center at Rapid Central Station.
Will there be service charges?
There is no service charge for using The Wave. However, there is a $5 minimum when loading value. There's also a $3 fee for the card itself, which will last up to 10 years. Replacement cards are $3.
How do transfers work with The Wave?
With your Wave card, you no longer have to request a transfer from your bus operator. Your transfer timeframe is built into your Wave card. When you tap your card at the reader while boarding, each tap you make after that within 1 hours and 45 minutes will be free, even on the same route! You will see the time that your transfer expires on the reader each time you tap, just be sure you tap your Wave card to the reader each time you board.
What if I get a pass from my employer?
Participating employers, agencies and schools will be able to provide employees, clients and students with Wave cards. So if you’re used to getting a pass this way, the only change will be remembering to tap on each time you board.
How secure is this?
Transit value isn’t stored on Wave cards and can’t be read by unauthorized personnel — when you tap your card to the reader, a transaction is instantly sent to the central system and deducted from your account balance. Your bank and personal information is protected and more secure compared to using a traditional magnetic stripe card.
In your account, you’ll also be able to see your data, including where you’ve tapped on. We’ll never sell this data.
What about mobile ticketing?
The Wave mobile ticketing app isn't available just yet.
We’ll be introducing a new app that takes advantage of The Wave’s flexibility. Using The Wave mobile app will allow you to pay your fare by simply loading money onto the app. You’ll even receive the same benefits as you would with a Wave card like pay-as-you-go fares and balance protection. Just scan your Wave mobile app below the reader when you get on board!*
*The Wave mobile ticketing app will be separate from The Wave smart card, which means balances are not interchangeable between card and app.
Can multiple people use the same card?
No. Since Wave cards track ridership to give passengers the best deal for how much they ride, it isn’t possible for one person to share a card with a family member or friend.
What is capped fare?
Fare capping is a pay-as-you-go fare feature which allows you to make a number of trips and limits the amount you pay for all your travel. You will no longer need to decide in advance which ticket would be best for you. Capped fare allows you to be flexible with your travel throughout a day or week without needing to buy additional tickets or worrying that you have spent more than you need. Caps are applied automatically once you hit the cap amount.
Fare capping levels:
- Spend $3.50 in one day (two one-way trips) and receive unlimited rides for the rest of the day.
- Spend $16 and receive unlimited rides within 7 days.
- Spend $47 and receive unlimited rides within 31 days.
Is bank and personal information safe?
Yes, all data and bank information is securely stored on the back-end system, not on the card itself.
What data is collected?
The Wave will collect anonymous ridership and travel pattern data which will only be used in aggregate to look at broad ridership trends. Individual transaction data would only be used to help a rider with a payment or account question.
What happens if an e-fare reader is not working?
If the e-fare reader is not working, it will display a message that says ‘out of service.’ This issue can be reported to Bus Operators, Supervisors or Information Center Representatives. Riders may board free of charge until the issue is resolved.
Will paper tickets and passes be eliminated? What about paper transfers?
Eventually, we will eliminate tickets, passes and paper transfers. Once tickets, passes and paper transfers are phased out, we will begin requiring exact cash fare for those not using The Wave.
How does a rider tap properly?
If someone taps too quickly or too slowly the reader may not recognize it. It’s best to hold your Wave card device in front of the e-fare reader for about one second and then remove.
How can I tell how much time I have left to transfer?
When you tap your Wave card, the reader will display the time and date that your fare expires. You can transfer between buses at no extra cost as much as you want until that time. If you tap your card after your time expires, you’ll be charged another fare. If you tap an expired Wave card with no balance, you’ll see a red “X” and a “Transaction Denied” message. You can also check the time remaining on your Wave card at wave.ridetherapid.org.
How do passes work with The Wave? Can I still buy a 31-Day pass?
With The Wave, instead of buying passes in advance you earn them as you go. All you have to do is ride! Every time you pay your fare, your tap goes toward a one-day pass, 7-day pass or 31-day pass. After paying for two trips in a day, you’ll earn a day pass and the rest of your rides are free until the next day. Once you’ve paid the equivalent of a 31-day pass — $47 for Adult riders or $30 for Reduced and ADA — the rest of your rides are free until your next 31-day period begins. That means you only pay for the rides you actually take. So everyone gets the savings of a pass, without the upfront cost or commitment.
What do I do if The Wave reader isn’t working?
In the rare case of a long power outage or if a reader gets vandalized, you may encounter an out-of-service Wave reader. If you’re at a Silver Line station, try tapping another reader at the station across the street, or buy a paper ticket from the ticket vending machine. If you’re on a bus, the operator will let you know and give you further instructions as you board. Buses accept bills and coins.
How do I get a reduced fare Wave card?
In order to qualify for reduced fare on our fixed-route system, one must be age 65 or older or have a current qualifying disability. All applicants not in The Rapid database must complete and submit a reduced fare application or visit Rapid Central Station.
Can I transfer the value of paper tickets I have onto a Wave card?
Unfortunately, we cannot transfer the value from previously purchased paper tickets onto a Wave card. We recommend using up all of your paper tickets and then purchasing a Wave card.
How do I report my card lost or stolen?
If you have a registered Wave card and it’s ever lost or stolen, let us know immediately by logging in to your account and choosing “Report Lost or Stolen” or give us a call at 616-776-1100. As long as you’ve registered your card and you report it lost or stolen, your money is safe. When you report your card it will be deactivated immediately, but your balance stays on your account.
How do I get my money back after my card was lost or stolen?
We can transfer your money to a replacement Wave card. Purchase a new card online or at the Information Center at Rapid Central Station. Cards cost $3 each.
Can I use my Wave card for GO!Bus or PASS?
Not at this time. Our paratransit fleet isn't equipped with Wave technology.