As SEPTA continues to deploy contactless fare payment across the Regional Rail system, we need to ensure everyone has equal access to our public transit system. The statement released on SEPTA’s website provided few details, leaving riders with these questions:
Will cash fares continue to be accepted?
Cash and paper tickets currently account for 23% of railroad fares. If paper tickets are no longer sold, will cash fares continue to be accepted?
What will happen to the ticket agents who currently serve at stations where paper tickets are sold?
While not all stations may have ticket offices, those that do are staffed by friendly SEPTA representatives to assist passengers who are new to riding SEPTA and those who need extra assistance. Will these representatives remain at these stations to continue to provide frontline customer support? How are their jobs being protected? The majority of riders are frequent commuters, but the system can still be confusing and overwhelming for occasional riders and passengers with disabilities.
When will SEPTA Key vending machines be installed at ALL SEPTA transit facilities across the region?
Regional Rail operates 154 stations across 7 counties in 3 states, and moved about 110,000 riders each day before the pandemic. Additionally, suburban transportation centers in Norristown, West Chester, Pottstown and shopping malls at Exton, King of Prussia and Neshaminy continue to move thousands of essential workers and shoppers daily. At present, Key Card vending machine installation has been focused on the Center City core stations and the Airport Line, and only 5 new stations are expected to sell Key Cards next month. How will SEPTA guarantee that Key Cards and Quick Trip tickets are available to suburban residents and commuters? For stations that do not have vending machines, will passengers pay the “onboard” price hike when they board? No one should be forced to pay more for transit simply because their station does not have a vending machine installed.
Will travelers be forced to travel to Center City to replace defective SEPTA Key cards?
Will Stationmasters have the ability to transfer passes from one card to another? If the SEPTA agents are moved from the stations and not all stations have agents, riders may be forced to travel downtown to 1234 Market Street or to the closest SEPTA office (which may require them to pay extra if their SEPTA Keys do not work) to resolve the issue. Not all transit riders use SEPTA to go downtown regularly, so this can add a financial/time burden to them.
We ask that SEPTA responds to these questions in a timely manner and provide more details on this. With the cancellation of the SEPTA Board Meeting in August, the only time that the public will be able to provide comment on this is the September Board Meeting, just a few weeks before this change is planned to go into effect.
We thank SEPTA for your continued work with the Philly Transit Riders Union to provide fair and accessible transit to ALL in Southeastern Pennsylvania.