RTA fares can be paid with cash (remember, exact change only!) or with a variety of RTA tickets and passes, including day passes, express passes, family passes and transfers.
Normally you pay your fare or present your pass or transfer to the RTA bus operator when you first board a bus, though there are exceptions to this rule. On the Rapid system, you pay your fare or present your pass at a turnstile when you enter a station or to the train driver when you board the train, depending upon which station you use to board the train. If you're not sure about when or how to pay, just ask the bus driver or Rapid operator.
Tickets and passes are available at the RTA Customer Service Center, 315 Euclid Avenue, and at over 180 participating banks and retail stores around town. Look for the "RTA Passes Sold Here" logo in the window, or call the RTA Answerline at 216-621-9500 for the nearest outlet.
The following is a list of RTA Fares:
Cash (one trip) $1.25 [local]; $1.50 [Express]
Day pass: Allows unlimited travel from the time of first use until 3 a.m. the next day on all services within Cuyahoga County. Day passes are available only at RTA's Customer Service Center (315 Euclid Avenue), RTA's Tower City Rapid station (open rush hours only), and at RTA's Hopkins Airport Rapid station.
Family day pass: Allows one day of unlimited rides on all services for one adult and up to three children, ages 6-15, from the time of first use until 3 a.m. the next day on all services within Cuyahoga County. Its effective date is the same as the regular day pass.
The passes described below are sold in both local and express versions.
Express passes are valid for all services. If you buy a local pass, then need to use or transfer to an express or flyer bus or one of the Rapid system's rail lines, you will have to pay an extra 25¢.
Weekly pass: Allows unlimited travel from the time of first use to the following Sunday at midnight.
Monthly pass: Allows unlimited travel until midnight on the last day of the month.
Annual pass: For the year-round RTA user, this is a bargain, because you pay for the equivalent of 11 months of RTA service, but get to ride for 12 full months. Go anywhere, any route, anytime with this pass that is valid until midnight on Dec. 31 of the year you purchase it.
Weekly off-peak pass: Unlimited off-peak travel from Monday to the following Sunday at midnight. This is a great deal if you can avoid travel during RTA's peak hours (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday). You can still use the pass during peak hours, if you need to, but the trip will cost an extra quarter.
Farecards of one, two, five and ten rides can also be purchased, if you'd like to save a little money by paying in advance.
To get where you're going, you'll sometimes need to take more than one bus or Rapid. If you're not using a pass that allows unlimited rides, be sure to ask your driver for a transfer when paying your fare. Transfers are free, and can be used to make up to three connections, including bus-to-train transfers. If you're using a transfer to connect from a local route to an express route or a Rapid, you'll have to pay the 25¢ price difference.
Transfers are valid for two hours from issuance, and are good for any direction except for returning on the same route. (In other words, the only extra riding you can't do with a transfer is to take a round-trip on the same bus route or Rapid line.) When you get on the next bus, put your transfer in the slot of the fare box, just like you would use any pass card or pre-paid ticket.
With a transfer, you can even get off the bus or train on the way to your final destination, then get back on and continue in the original direction without paying again, as long as the transfer hasn't expired (expiration time is printed on the transfer). For instance, you can catch a bus heading toward downtown, hop off along the way to do some banking or get some breakfast, then take the next bus to resume your trip without paying another fare.