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?
Wave cards have a one-time fee of $3.
Do all riders have to use The Wave?
No, riders can still pay with cash on buses. However, in summer 2020, those paying cash fares will no longer have access to free transfers or change cards.
What about passes?
Savvy riders know that daily, seven-day and monthly passes are a 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.
Register your card here.
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?
Wave cards cannot be purchased at ticket vending machines. However, you can buy a Wave card online, at Rapid Central Station, or at more than 60 retail locations.
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.
Auto-load is not available for 10-Ride Wave cards.
Do you need a smartphone or internet to use The Wave?
No. Wave cards can be reloaded at Rapid Central Station and retail locations with cash, debit or credit card.
You still take cash, right?
Absolutely! You can pay your fare in cash on the bus. You can also purchase and reload a Wave card using cash at Rapid Central Station and at one of our many retail networks.
When do I need to tap my card?
You’ll need to tap your card to the reader every time you board or transfer. Make sure you hold for a moment for it to read.
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 online. However, there's no load minimum at Rapid Central Station. Each retail location sets their own minimum load amounts based on store policies.
Will there be service charges?
There is no service charge for using The Wave. However, there is a $5 minimum when loading value online. 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?
The Rapid is excited to work with employers, schools, agencies, and other organizations to provide Wave cards to their employees, clients, students, and more.
If the organization or employer you currently get a pass from hasn't switched to The Wave or a barcode, please recommend they contact email@example.com to make the transition.
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 that 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 calendar month without needing to buy additional tickets or worrying that you have spent more than you need.
Fare capping resets automatically on the first day of every month.
Fare capping levels:
- Spend $3.50 in one day (two one-way trips) and receive unlimited rides for the rest of the day.
- The monthly fare cap is $47.
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.
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.
How do I reload my Wave card at a retail location?
First, find your nearest retail location here. Simply take your card to the cashier and let them know you're seeking to reload your card. The cashier will scan the front barcode. You will be able to load with cash, change, or credit/debit card.
I want to reload my card with cash. Where can I do this?
You can reload your Wave card with cash at one of our many retail locations or at Rapid Central Station (See hours here).
How do I use my Wave card on the Silver Line?
Just tap your Wave card at the blue Wave reader at the Silver Line station and board when your bus arrives!
Fare Enforcement Officers check valid fare payment by scanning your Wave card.
300 Ellsworth Avenue SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-4005