Michigan program to allow riders to pay for public transit without taking out smartphones

This sign signals a stop for riders of metro Detroit's SMART bus system. (WDIV/ClickOnDetroit.com)

A pilot program is coming to Michigan so those using public transportation can use smartphones to pay for rides without needing to take devices out of pockets.

The Michigan Mobility Wallet Challenge’s goal is to increase the interface that represents public transit services and give more access to mobility for Michiganders. There are four companies working with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME). Those companies are Ecolane Inc., Feonix – Mobility Rising, and the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA).

The pilot program will be simplifying the payment process for riders by increasing mobility services. Riders or third-party stakeholders will be able to connect bank accounts to a single platform to allow them to load funds for fare payments.

The program will allow a rider’s mobile wallet to pay for the rider without the individual needing to remove their smartphone from their pocket. This will be made possible by a sensor technology developed by ZED Digital.

Click here to see a video on how the sensor technology will work with your smartphone.

Some of the companies working with MDOT will only be valid for specific areas in Michigan. Feonix will be supporting a mobility wallet for the city and its surrounding areas of Detroit, Grand Rapids and Jackson. MDOT reported in a release that Feonix will be developing partnerships.

You can see who they are partnering with below:

  • Boaz Bikes
  • Care on Wheels
  • City of Hillsdale
  • Disability Advocates of Kent County
  • HOPE Network
  • Jackson Area Transportation Authority
  • Jackson County Military Coalition
  • Kent County Essential Needs Task Force
  • Key Opportunity
  • Lenawee Public Transportation Authority
  • Lime
  • Menlo Innovations
  • Metro Detroit Council - Navy League of United States
  • Metro Strategies
  • Michigan State University
  • Michigan Works Southeast
  • Mobile GR-City of Grand Rapid
  • MoCaFi
  • Region 2 Area Agency on Aging
  • Ride Your Way
  • SkedGo
  • Superpedestrian
  • Sundberg Ferar
  • The Rapid
  • The Welcome Home Organization
  • Token Transit
  • Uber
  • University of Michigan
  • West Michigan Veterans Coalition
  • Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE)

Along with Feonix, the RTA has partnered up with Detroit at Work, Downtown Detroit Partnership and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to help develop a mobility wallet program for Metro Detroit citizens. The mobility wallet is reported to provide service for DDOT, MoGo, People Mover, Qline and SMART. MDOT wrote in a statement that a scooter company will also be involved.

“We hope the knowledge gained during this pilot program can be used as a blueprint that can be replicated and introduced across the state,” stated the interim general manager of the RTA, Ben Stupka. “Creating a streamlined mechanism for fare payment is a significant step toward improving the transit experience for Michiganders.”

For more MDOT news, click here.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.