Meet RTA's state-of-the-art fare collection system

CLEVELAND -- The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) uses a state-of-the-art fare collection system with two methods.

  • Fareboxes are used on all buses and light-rail trains on the Blue, Green and Waterfront lines.
  • A Proof-of-Payment system is used on all Red Line trains and HealthLine BRT vehicles on Euclid Avenue. Be sure you pay your fare before you board. Ticket vending machines (TVMs) are located inside all Red Line and HealthLine stations. Retain your activated farecard or pass until you exit the system.


  • More efficient.
  • Speeds up the boarding process.
  • Reduces the wait time in lines that some riders have experienced when boarding.
  • Because of the technology upgrades and a new swipe reader, the magnetic cards have improved reliability. This greatly reduces card failures.

Using RTA's farebox

The farebox has a farecard swipe reader to speed your trip, and a “trim” inside. The “trim” slot is needed to put an expiration date and time on your farecard.

  • Always use exact change

The fareboxes provide audio and visual messages to let you know if your fare has been accepted.

They accept:

  • All U.S. coins and currency, from pennies to $20 bills – including $1 coins.
  • Cards with magnetic stripes, whether the cards are pre-printed or issued by the farebox.

They do not accept $2 bills or foreign currency.

  • Using coins

The farebox accepts one coin at a time, just like most food vending machines.

Damaged coins and foreign coins are returned to you through the Coin Return cup on the front panel of the farebox, directly below the Coin Insertion Cup.

Coins are never returned as change for an overpayment.

Coins and/or bills may be used in conjunction with other media, such as magnetic passes, to pay additional fares. For example, if you used a Bus/Rapid farecard or pass to pay for Park-N-Ride service, you would pay an additional 25 cents per ride.

  • Using bills

After you insert a bill into the farebox, the bill is quickly examined to determine its validity and denomination.

The farebox can handle most bills subjected to normal usage, but it cannot process bills with:

  • Folds that reduce the bill length by ½ inch or more
  • Internal holes and tears
  • Tears longer than ½ inch
  • Tape or other items attached to them
  • Rejected bills are returned to the passenger.

Once a bill is accepted, it cannot be returned to the passenger for any reason.

Sometimes you dip, sometimes you swipe

Monthly Pass -- On all uses, swipe.

7-Day Pass -- On the first use, dip the 7-Day Pass into the “trim” slot to activate it and print the expiration date and time. After the first use, swipe.

All-Day Pass --

  1. If you purchased it on-board, it has already been activated. Use the swipe reader each time you use it.
  2. If you purchased it off-board (at a vending machine or the RTA Customer Service Center), dip the pass into the “trim” slot to activate it and to print the expiration date and time. After the first use, swipe.

5-trip, 2-trip, and 1-trip farecards

Dip the farecard into the “trim” slot on the first ride of each trip. If you transfer within the allowed time, use the swipe reader for your transfer ride(s).

If your farecard already has a valid expiration date and time, swipe.

OOPS -- If you accidentally use the “trim” slot, your card will be processed normally. If you accidentally use the swipe slot, the farebox will say “INVALID CARD” and display the message: “INSERT INTO TRIM.”

Smartcards in your future

RTA plans to phase in a “Smartcard” system that will allow passengers to simply wave their farecard in front of the “Smartcard” reader on the farebox, and the fare will be deducted from the card. No time frame has been set.

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