Many of Ohio’s Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) riders are enjoying the agency’s cashless fare payment system, according to a recent survey conducted by researchers from Cleveland State University’s (CSU) Levin College of Urban Affairs.
More than 86% of riders who use the agency’s EZfare mobile ticketing app reported that they were “extremely satisfied” with the system developed by NEORide and the consortium’s technology partner Masabi. EZfare is now being offered by 13 transit systems in Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan and is available on the EZfare app (found in the App Store and Google Pay Store), Transit App, Uber, and Moovit.
“It’s very encouraging that the survey results show that EZfare improves the transit experience and makes our services more accessible for our customers,” Ben Capelle, NEORide’s board president, said. “We have seen a large conversion to mobile fare payment for the convenience and safety it offers and I hope these results allow us to bring EZfare to more transit systems to expand the benefits to transit customers.”
Along with ease of use and convenience, the vast majority of survey respondents said having a touchless/contactless fare payment system is extremely important in the COVID-19 era.
The importance of providing safe public transit is underscored by another data point from the survey: 80% of the respondents do not own a personal vehicle and therefore depend on public transit to travel to work, school, and other essential services.
“We know our riders rely on us to get them where they need to go and to get them there safely,” said Kirt Conrad, SARTA’s executive director. “The contactless feature wasn’t a major consideration when we began developing the app, but it’s become a major selling point and advantage in the post-COVID-19 world.”
The survey of SARTA riders is the first component of an extensive data collection project that will be conducted by CSU’s Levin College. The project, which is led by Professor Robert (Roby) Simons, chair of CSU’s Levin College, and a team of CSU students and colleagues, will measure how well the EZfare system is working, provide valuable insight about transit riders, and enable NEORide and its partner transit agencies to plot a clear course for the future of public transit.
The EZfare program, including the research project, is being funded by a $1.9 million Integrated Mobility Innovation grant awarded to SARTA by the U.S Federal Transit Administration earlier this year.
CALSTART will be handling data management and multimodal solutions for the project.