Philly Under “Stay At Home” Order, SEPTA Seeks to Raise Fares During a Pandemic

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Monday, March 23, 2020

On Sunday, March 22, shortly after the City of Philadelphia issued a “Stay At Home Order” prohibiting most personal activity to prevent the spread of COVID-19, SEPTA announced it would hold public fare increase hearings through the pandemic, with “virtual” public participation and comment. Under normal conditions, “virtual” public hearings on a fare increase would be inadequate. Under current conditions, SEPTA’s decision is surreal.

SEPTA continues to collect fares while other transit agencies across North America have suspended fare collection to limit transit operator exposure to COVID-19. SEPTA appears preoccupied with trying to squeeze an extra 50 cents or $3 a month out of the medical, custodial, home healthcare, and grocery store workers who rely on public transit, even during a state of emergency. Will these essential-service providers be able to participate in fare hearings scheduled at what may be the height of a public health crisis?

SEPTA will not get meaningful input from the public by holding fare increase hearings during a pandemic. These hearings must be postponed indefinitely to allow SEPTA officials to concentrate on operating essential infrastructure and obtaining desperately needed federal aid for the recovery ahead.