MTA’s EasyRide not so easy to set up

Several months ago, Stephen Yeargin tried to get his company set up with with Metro Transit Authority’s (MTA) EasyRide program.  This program allows employers to pay for their employees’ rides on public transit in and around Nashville.

Already, such large institutions as Vanderbilt, the state government, and Metro participate in EasyRide.  Employees from these institutions receive special MTA cards they tap on the fare box (or, in the case of Vanderbilt, swipe their Vanderbilt ID badges) when boarding a bus or the Music City Star.  But the program is actually available to any employer who wants to participate — though Mr. Yeargin discovered it’s more difficult to set up than it should be.

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It took him seven months to get EasyRide for his company.  He found that there’s practically no information on MTA’s website and that MTA required multiple letters of credit for his employer (a burden for small companies).  Many companies won’t bother jumping through all these hoops, he frets, when they should be trying to increase ridership through initiatives like this:

I believe the only barrier to more folks using EasyRide is the operational inefficiencies of signing up for the program. Signing up companies is the easiest way to grow ridership, and thereby improve transit in the region.

Moreover, the customer service representative he spoke to at Music City Central seemed to know little about EasyRide.  “I think that’s only for Vanderbilt and State employees,” the representative told him.

Mr. Yeargin made five recommendations for improving the the signup for EasyRide, from getting rid of a required in-person presentation to having fewer steps in the application process.

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