SARTA Survey Finds Transit Riders Prefer EZfare During COVID-19
More than 86% of people who use the free EZfare mobile ticketing app are “extremely satisfied” with the innovative cashless fare payment system according to a recent survey of Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) riders conducted by researchers from Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. 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, 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, Board President, NEORide 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 respondents said having a touchless/contactless fare payment system is extremely important in the COVID-19 era. “Along with masks, social distancing, and isolating operators, EZfare is an essential element of the safety protocols our transit systems have adopted since the pandemic began,” Professor Robert Simons, Chair, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University said.
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, shopping, medical appointments, and other destinations. “We know our riders rely on us to get them where they need to go and to get them there safely,” Kirt Conrad, Executive Director, SARTA said. “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. EZfare is now both the easiest and the safest way to pay for public transit.”
“EZfare is providing a convenient way for passengers to take public transit safely, without needing to use cash or interact with ticketing infrastructure,” said Brian Zanghi, CEO of Masabi. “We are extremely pleased with the feedback from riders and look forward to helping continue bringing safe and innovative fare payment solutions to agencies across Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan.”
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 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 $1,997,503 Integrated Mobility Innovation grant awarded to SARTA by the U.S Federal Transit Administration (FTA) earlier this year.
CALSTART, a nonprofit organization working nationally and internationally with businesses and governments to develop clean efficient transportation solutions will be handling data management and multi modal solutions for this project. Maureen Marshall, Regional Director for CALSTART when asked about EZfare stated, “We believe in transit equity and the EZfare payment system is providing improved mobility aimed at significantly benefiting the unbanked, underbanked, low-income, disadvantaged, disabled, student, elderly and other underserved populations. We need to give people options for accessibility that address safety during these unprecedented times.”
Detailed information about the app and download links may be found at www.ezfare.us. The app can be found in the App Store and at Google Play by searching for “EZfare” and is also available via Transit App, Uber and Moovit.
Additional information regarding survey results can be found at www.neoride.org/imigrant