As part of the Authority’s proposed Fiscal Year 2014 operating budget, SEPTA today announced a plan to increase fares and simplify the payment process for customers in preparation for an upcoming move to a new, modernized fare system.
Under the proposal, SEPTA would increase fares effective at the start of Fiscal Year 2014 on July 1, 2013. SEPTA’s last fare increase was in 2010.
In keeping with the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Transportation Funding and Reform Commission, SEPTA has adopted a policy of fare increases every three years. The commission made these recommendations as part of a comprehensive review of transportation funding needs and revenue sources prior to enactment of Act 44, a state law passed in 2007 to create a dedicated source for transportation funding. SEPTA has followed these guidelines by enacting cost-of-living priced fare increases in July 2007 (Fiscal Year 2008) and in July 2010 (Fiscal Year 2011), and now proposes similar adjustments for the upcoming year.
The new plan includes the first increase to the base cash fare since 2001. As part of the effort to simplify fares and introduce an “open” fare payment and collection system under the New Payment Technology (NPT) program, extra-fare zone charges would be eliminated on dozens of transit routes, and there would be some consolidation of zones on Regional Rail. In addition, gender stickers would be eliminated on all passes for transit and Regional Rail as of July 1, 2013.
The following is a summary of the major points of the fare proposal. Public hearings will be held beginning next month in each of the five counties in which SEPTA operates – Philadelphia, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County and Chester County. This will provide the authority with valuable feedback about the proposal before it is considered for a vote by the SEPTA Board.
City Transit Division: The current cash fare for a trip on SEPTA’s buses, subways and trolleys would increase from $2 to $2.25 on July 1, and then to $2.50 when the switch to NPT is complete in 2014. Discounted single-trip fares – tokens until NPT, then continuing with smart media payment – will be $1.80. Transfers remain $1. Weekly and Monthly TransPasses would be $24.50 and $92, respectively, under both the current payment system and NPT.
Suburban Transit: Fare structure would stay consistent with City Transit. In addition, extra fare zones would be eliminated on 21 bus routes. An extra fare zone on the Norristown High Speed Line would also be removed, with a new single fare of $2.75 established. Multiple zones would be eliminated from bus routes 123, 124, 125 and 150, which would all have a new, single fare of $3.75.
Regional Rail: Fare zones would be consolidated as of July 1. The current Zone 5 would be eliminated, with most stations moving to an expanded Zone 4. In addition, approximately half of the current Zone 4 ridership would stay in Zone 4, with the remaining moving to an expanded Zone 3. Zone 1 will also be adjusted to include Eastwick, North Broad Street and North Philadelphia stations. Zone structure and most fares proposed for July 1, 2013 would continue through the switch to NPT.
Through the implementation of NPT, customers can continue to pay for trips using current methods. When NPT is implemented, smart media payment would be needed to access discounted fares, such as the $1.80 single-trip price and $1 transfers proposed for transit, one-way discounts on Regional Rail that will replace the current ten-trip reduced fare, and weekly and monthly passes.
Smart media payment methods will include a SEPTA-branded card that will be available for purchase at all transit stations, Center City Regional Rail hubs and other SEPTA sales locations. In addition, customers will be able to use their own devices – such as compliant credit and debit cards that offer contactless payment, near field communication-enabled smartphones and smart-chip equipped identification cards, just to name a few – as part of the open fare system. Discounted fare rates will be available simply by registering these devices with SEPTA. In addition, customers who wish to continue using cash under NPT will be able to purchase one-way rail fares and make transactions at the fareboxes on buses and trolleys.
In the coming months, SEPTA will announce details of a major outreach campaign designed to educate customers and the public about the new fare payment system. Details about the NPT project are available on a special section of the SEPTA website.
A full breakdown of the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 fare increase is also available online.
In addition, SEPTA personnel will be available to answer questions during the following public hearings: Monday April 15 at the Delaware County Courthouse in Media, PA; Tuesday April 16 at the Montgomery County Human Services Center in Norristown, PA; Wednesday, April 17 at SEPTA Headquarters in Philadelphia; Friday, April 19 at West Chester Borough Hall in West Chester, PA; and Monday, April 22 at the Bucks County Free Library in Doylestown, PA. There are two sessions at each day, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the locations in the suburban counties, and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in Philadelphia.