Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there a fare increase coming?
A: No, fares remain the same. The base fare for a single-ride on local routes is still $1.50. You can still pay with exact change. If you overpay, you may ask your Operator for a refund slip.

Q: When are Go Cards retiring?
A: EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 29, 2017: Old Go Cards that were discontinued in 2015 (but still valid at fareboxes) are no longer accepted at GRTC fareboxes or future Pulse ticket vending machines. Customers are asked to please use old $1.50, $3.00, $5.00 and $25.00 Go Cards prior to their permanent expiration on October 29, 2017. These old Go Cards are not accepted for trade-in value or refund. Vendors stop selling the $10 Go Card. Any remaining $10 Go Cards will still be valid at GRTC fareboxes through December 30, 2017. If a customer is not able to use up their $10 Go Card by December 30th, they can trade it in for a pass(es) of equivalent value at the Temporary Transfer Plaza or RideFinders (customer service dates will be posted at RideGRTC.com). 

Q: Why are Go Cards retiring?
A: GRTC is preparing for a major technology upgrade that will mean improved fare payment choices for you! Soon, you will be able to simply tap your pass at a GRTC farebox or Pulse ticket vending machine and ride. We are also preparing to launch a new mobile payment app, enabling you to scan at the farebox or Pulse ticket vending machine and pay securely. Finally, soon GRTC will upgrade our fare system technology with fare web portal capabilities and a reloadable smart card system. We are excited to provide these important updates for you soon! With the technology upgrades behind-the-scenes necessary to enable tap passes, mobile payment and reloadable smart cards, we cannot keep the old stored value, magnetic stripe fare media technology. For example, if you have a $10 Go Card (mag-stripe, draw down until zero, throw away), it can’t interact with the latest fare media technology available on fareboxes and future Pulse ticket vending machines. We have to remove the Go Card old technology to enable the new technology on fareboxes. Ticket vending machines don’t accept old mag-stripe fare media, and that’s true across the country where systems are upgrading to the latest ticket vending machine technology. 

Q: When and why do Change Cards have to go away?
A: Effective October 29, 2017, Change Cards are no longer issued from the farebox. These Change Cards are accepted on fareboxes through December 30, 2017. Change Cards are the same old mag-stripe fare media with stored value as Go Cards. Because GRTC must remove this old technology from the fareboxes, Change Cards must also go away. Customers may still request a refund slip from their Operator, which will be processed for a refund to the customer by mail. As always, exact fare is required; GRTC fareboxes do not issue change.

Q: What is a "tap pass?"
A: A tap pass is any fare media card that is tapped on a target reader area on a farebox or ticket vending machine, which reads the chip inside the pass and validates the pass. The customer simply taps the pass at the reader, and done! The target reader on the GRTC farebox is the oval on the top right. GRTC is upgrading most fare media to this tap technology in 2018.

Q: With the new tap passes and other technology upgrades, are there changes to the fare structure or passes offered?
A: No. There is no change to the fares or passes offered. Passes purchased from the farebox will still be mag-stripe passes. Simply swipe your pass at fareboxes and ride! Passes purchased from Pulse ticket vending machines, the online transit store, or area vendors will be tap passes. Simply tap your pass and go!

Q: My employer provided $10 Go Cards for me to ride to/from work. What are my options now?
A: There are several options (of the same cost) available to employers and their employees! The best program available is our e-pass (employee pass) program, where your employer signs up to provide this transit benefit to you. This pass enables you to ride to/from work with this e-pass, and your employer can track your usage. Ask your employer to consider the e-pass program and contact RideFinders to learn more! 
Another option available to employers is to purchase the pass you need to get to/from work. For example, if you ride a local bus with a connection to/from work today, then the One Ride Plus pass is what you should ask your employer to purchase and provide for you. Make sure your employer knows how you ride so they can purchase the right pass for you. 

Q: I have a transit subsidy credit card provided by my employer. What can I buy with this credit card?
A: This special credit card is accepted at RideFinders and GRTC's Online Transit Store to purchase any of our fare media, such as One Ride Passes, One Ride Plus Passes, and our Unlimited Ride Passes (Day, 7 Day, 30 Day). 

Q: When did Transfer Tickets go away?
A: November 15, 2015. If you only ride one-way on two buses, there is an equivalent pass just for you called the “One Ride Plus Pass” for $1.75 (fare based on $1.50 ride + $0.25 old transfer). This allows you to purchase a ride going to your destination on one bus, then connect onto your next bus within 90 minutes to continue your trip. If you are a reduced fare customer, ask your operator for a Reduced One Ride Pass. You get a free connection onto another bus!

Q: What if I forget to tell my bus operator I want to buy a One Ride Plus Pass before I put in my $1.50 cash and then try to put in $0.25?
A: If you insert cash and forget to tell your operator you want to “connect” onto another bus to complete your one-trip, the farebox will only issue you a One Ride Pass ($1.50). 

Q: So after telling my operator I want a One Ride Plus Pass, how much cash do I need to put in at once?
A: $1.75 

Q: What if I don't have exact change and overpay?
A: If you insert more money than is required for your fare, you can request a Refund Slip from your Operator. This Refund Slip will be processed to you by mail.

Q: What if my commute requires two or more buses one-way? How much is my trip, effective November 15, 2015?
A: You can still choose to pay $1.50 + $1.50 + $1.50 and so on. However, if you only ride one-way on two buses, there is a special pass just for you called the “One Ride Plus Pass” for $1.75. This allows you to purchase a ride going to your destination on one bus, then connect onto your next bus to continue your trip. This pass can be purchased at the Farebox or at retail locations.
If you ride multiple trips in a day and make multiple connections, we suggest using the unlimited ride bus pass that will give you better value! For a one-day unlimited ride pass, the cost is $3.50. You can hop on and off busses as often as you want, no transfer tickets needed, during that transit day (which ends at 3AM). This provides more value to riders. It is “cost-neutral” to riders and “revenue-neutral” to GRTC.

Q: How long is a one-day pass valid?
A: It is valid from the first time you insert to activate on a date, until the end of that transit day. I.e., this is not a complete 24-hour period like 7AM-7AM.  A transit day ends at 3AM.

Q: What if my pass is damaged or won't read correctly when swiped?
A: On the back of the pass, the end date and time for that pass will be printed. Simply show the expiration date/time to your bus operator to validate that the pass is still active. If your pass is damaged beyond legibility, you may surrender the pass to the bus operator and receive a refund slip. If your pass will not initally activate correctly, please surrender your pass to the bus operator to receive a refund slip.

Q: How did you decide to charge $3.50 for the unlimited one-day pass?
A: If you ride one-way on two buses with a connection, the cost is $1.50+$0.25=$1.75. When you add in your identical return trip, your total daily commute cost is $3.50. This is called “cost-neutral.” However, the unlimited ride one-day pass allows you to ride more than just to and from your destination in a day! You can make stops at the grocery store after work, and then continue home, without paying more.

Q: What other unlimited ride passes are available, effective November 15, 2015?
A: Unlimited 7-Day pass and an unlimited 30-day pass.

Q: Can I share my bus pass with someone else riding with me?
A: No. Passes are non-transferrable. 

Q: How do I buy reduced fare passes? (Senior, Disabled, Medicare, Minor)
A: Eligible customers can purchase the Local Reduced Day Pass on the farebox after a customer shows a photo ID card with proof of age for operator verification (this is the same process as today). The 7-day and 30-day reduced passes will not be for sale on the farebox.  The three options of the Day, 7-day and 30-day reduced passes will NOT be for sale in stores (as those vendors will not be responsible for verifying eligibility), nor will it be available in the Mobile Pay App. Customers wishing to purchase reduced fare passes for any of these time-periods should contact the GRTC Eligibility Coordinator to receive an ID card. This is a secure method of verification to ensure that “fare is fair” for all of our customers.

Q: What are the age definitions?
A:  A “Minor” is a person between the ages of 6 through 18 years. Kids age 5 and younger ride for FREE with one paying passenger. A “Senior” is 65 years of age or older. 

Q: What are the fares for children aged 5 and younger?
A: One Child 5 years of age or younger rides for FREE when accompanied with a fare-paying passenger. An additional Child 5 years of age or younger can ride for a Reduced Fare with a Photo ID card with proof of age.

Q: Are reduced fares available for express routes?
A: No. Reduced fares are only available for local routes.

Q: Why did you switch to an unlimited ride fare pass system in 2015?
A: This provides more value for transit riders, increasing the frequency options for transit travel. This is also the industry standard across the country. Cash, however, will always be accepted! 

Q: Will credit/debit cards be accepted on the new fareboxes to buy fare passes?
A: Not at this time. This is for your customer information security!

Q: Where & when can I buy new fare passes?
A: At local vendors, in the online Transit Store, on a new mobile pay app coming soon, at new Pulse Ticket Vending Machines, and on bus fareboxes (they will sell the unlimited one-day and 7-day passes onboard).

Q: How do I insert an unlimited ride pass on the electronic farebox?
A: Upon first use, insert the new unlimited ride pass in the upper left slot. This will activate the clock on the pass. Upon subsequent uses, swipe the unlimited ride pass in the horizontal card swipe slot (it looks like where you would swipe a credit/debit card), with the magnetic strip down to slide through the slot. It will work either way the pass faces you, but the magnetic strip must be down to slide through the slot.

Q: How much does it cost to purchase bus tickets and passes through the online Transit Store?
A: Standard Shipping & Handling is $2.50. Confirmed Delivery Shipping & Handling is $8.60.

Q: When could SmartCards be sold? (Those have a chip in them, you tap the card in the blue oval on the farebox, and they are reloadable)
A: We are currently researching SmartCard options, and may be ready to release them in 2018 or 2019.

Q: Will the fareboxes accept the Government, VCU & GRTC’s employees Swipe cards?
A: Yes, but a technology upgrade is coming soon! Instead of swiping every time you ride, you'll tap. Simply tap every time you ride.

Q: Will the fareboxes accept the Senior, Disabled & ADA CARE GRTC ID Cards?
A: Yes, nothing changes. Please be aware that when a Reduced customer used their “Reduced” pass, a Photo ID card with proof of age is required for buying and boarding.

Q: What about the free transfers cards provided to some agencies. Will the fareboxes accept those cards ?
A: No, GRTC stopped providing and accepting those old transfer cards in 2015.

Q: The Senior, CARE or Disable GRTC card is not working at the swipe card reader, can I swipe them in the other direction?
A: Yes, the new fareboxes card readers work on both ways.


Interacting with the Farebox:

  • If you want to buy your pass on the farebox (please note: only certain passes are available for purchase from the farebox! One Day and 7-Day Passes are sold, and also One-Day Reduced Fare Passes), the farebox screen will show you what you are buying “D/P LOC” = Day Pass Local for $3.50. You can pay with exact cash or a Go Card. Once you paid, the farebox will say, “Fare Deducted” and spit out from the top left slot a purple card labeled on the back with what you purchased, on which bus, at what time, and how long it is valid in larger print. The card is activated for you! Proceed onto the bus.
     
  • If you purchase a One Ride Pass (regular or reduced fare) on the bus farebox, the pass will pop up from the upper left slot with an EXPIRED print on the back.
     
  • Passes have instructions on them on the front (in the black background area), saying, “INSERT TO ACTIVATE – SWIPE TO RIDE” or “SWIPE TO RIDE” depending on the card. Follow the instructions on each card.
    Remember to follow the rules of activation: first use = insert to activate; second use = swipe to ride.
     
  • If your pass says, “INSERT TO ACTIVATE – SWIPE TO RIDE” then the first time you ride and use the pass, you first insert the card into the upper left slot (where GoCards are inserted today) with the green arrows pointing down and facing you. The back of your card will be printed with “FIRST USE: date and time. EXPIRES: date and time.” You may proceed onto the bus! On your next ride, you swipe the card into the horizontal slot horizontally with the magnetic strip sliding through the slot (face and direction DO NOT MATTER – any horizontal swipe will work!). The farebox will show you that the fare is satisfied with a green check mark. Enjoy your ride! 
    Remember to follow the rules of activation: first use = insert to activate; second use = swipe to ride.
     
  • If your pass says, “SWIPE TO RIDE” then you swipe the card into the horizontal slot horizontally with the magnetic strip sliding through the slot (face and direction DO NOT MATTER – any horizontal swipe will work!). The farebox will show you that the fare is satisfied with a green check mark. Enjoy your ride! 
    Remember to follow the rules of activation: first use = insert to activate; second use = swipe to ride.
     
  • If your pass says, “INSERT TO ACTIVATE” then you insert the card into the upper left slot with the green arrows pointing down and facing you.  NOTE: The One Ride Plus Pass is ALWAYS inserted and NEVER swiped, even on the second bus.
     
  • Once the card is activated (insert to activate) you cannot immediately swipe to ride (this is to prevent sharing passes between people on the same bus – i.e., fare evasion)
     
  • If your pass says “UNLIMITED” then you can ride as much as you want on any relevant route during that time-period. NOTE: The time period is for consecutive days of usage! For example, if you have the Unlimited 7-Day Pass, the clock starts upon first usage, and expires at the end of the 7th transit day.
     
  • There is NO downgrade fee. If you have an Unlimited Express Pass and want to ride on a local route, it is free to ride! Upgrade fees may apply to higher-fare routes, but same-fare or lower-fare routes are FREE to connect onto.
     
  • If you have an Unlimited Local pass, and then want to upgrade onto an express or extended express route, you must pay the upgrade fee, which the farebox will automatically calculate for you. For example, if you have a Local One Day Unlimited Pass for $3.50, and want to ride once on a Henrico Express, you can pay a $0.50 exact change or Go Card to upgrade to get you onto the bus. See these upgrade fees HERE.
     
  • If a customer is using a Reduced Pass, every time it is inserted or swiped, the farebox will always say, “Please show ID.”  The customer must show a photo ID card with proof of age. Fare is fair!
     
  • GRTC has an ID Card program. Call GRTC at 804-358-3871 and ask to speak with the GRTC Eligibility Coordinator, or mail your request to Eligibility Coordinator, 301 East Belt Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23224.  
     
  • If a Reduced Pass customer wants to upgrade to a higher cost bus ride, the farebox will automatically calculate the upgrade fee. The customer will pay it, and then the farebox will say, “Please show ID” to verify for the bus operator. Reduced Pass customers can ONLY upgrade to a City Express, Pemberton Express or Henrico Express. Reduced fare upgrades are NOT valid on other expresses (Petersburg, Chesterfield, Kings Dominion), which is the case today.