In October 2021 the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) launched its new digital fare payment system designed to make purchasing fares easier, ensure customers pay the best price, and increase equity and accessibility for all. Utilizing the market-leading Transit app as well as Smartcards linked to personal COTA accounts, COTA launched a full account-based ticketing solution, powered by Masabi, the company bringing Fare Payments-as-a-Service to public transit.
The goal of the new system was to reduce barriers to transit access through fare affordability, increased access via retail options for purchasing and adding funds, and a seamless payment experience with the Transit app and COTA Smartcards.
Prior to the new digital system, those customers who didn’t have the means to purchase monthly passes up front were forced to pay the most to access transit. Masabi’s fare capping technology empowers everyone to ride COTA for the same cost, regardless of their financial situation. Riders can simply scan the Transit app or tap their Smartcard on Masabi’s Justride Validators (JRV) when boarding, and they will never pay more than $4.50 per day or $62 per calendar month.
COTA also made transit more accessible for its cash-only customers with the launch of a retail distribution network of approximately 350 locations throughout Columbus and Franklin County neighborhoods, made possible by T-CETRA’s VIDAPAY and InComm Payments’ VanillaDirect, so riders can add funds via cash to the Transit app or Smartcard. Riders can also add funds by visiting COTA Transit Centers and use the points of sale powered by Masabi’s Vendor Portal.
Because the Transit app is integrated with fare payment systems for more than 55 transit agencies across the U.S. and Canada, including Greater Dayton RTA and SORTA/Metro in Cincinnati, COTA riders visiting other cities, as well as visitors to Central Ohio, can use the Transit app to pay fares when they travel without having to create a new account.
“We know that transit is at the heart of ensuring economic mobility for all in our region, and advancing this new digital fare payment system is truly the right thing to do,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “By correcting this inequity in our transit system, COTA is taking the next step in guaranteeing all of our residents have equal access to food, jobs, healthcare, the arts and entertainment throughout our region.”
“A modern public transit system must be accessible and equitable, and we partnered with COTA, Transit, InComm Payments and T-CETRA to help make that a reality for Central Ohio residents,” said Brian Zanghi, CEO of Masabi. “Our account-based ticketing platform allows transit agencies such as COTA to provide customers with affordable and equitable fares, no matter how much or little they travel, or how they choose to pay for those rides. It levels the playing field for all transit customers.”
“Our mission is to make riding public transit as simple and stress-free as possible,” said David Block-Schachter, Chief Business Officer at Transit. “By introducing its new fare payment system in Transit, COTA is providing customers with an intuitive and seamless mobility experience, integrating cutting-edge fare capping technology from Masabi into Transit’s top-rated trip planner, to improve the rider experience at every step of the journey.”
Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA): COTA is Transforming the Way Central Ohioans Move
COTA partnered with Masabi to implement a fully digital account-based fare management system- one that offers ease, convenience and security- for passengers to locate and pay for rides using the Transit app or a COTA smartcard, eliminating the need to purchase passes or select fares before boarding.
Download the case study to learn more.
Find out more about the new system directly from COTA.