On Tuesday May 12th, SEPTA announced their plan to implement some good elements of their fare proposal– one free transfer and $1 child fares– on July 1 and to delay all fare increases until January 2021 if their proposal is passed in June. The riders’ union has opposed all fare increases during the crisis and commends SEPTA’s willingness to formally commit to postponing them.
While a six month delay of fare increases is a welcome first step, the recovery from this crisis will likely last a year or more. For this reason we will continue to ask SEPTA to pass a fare plan that works for essential workers and significantly lowers and simplifies fares for one year.
This crisis has revealed that we live in two distinct and disconnected realities– some are put at risk of infection every day for little pay while others work comfortably from home. The SEPTA system reflects this divide, where some get an extensive rail system and others get spotty bus service. If we truly value essential workers, everyone should be able to ride the train and the bus for the same price. Trains allow for more social distancing and could alleviate overcrowding on buses. Now is the time to end the socioeconomic segregation of our transit system.
Free transfers and lower child fares are great parts of SEPTA’s proposal: we and others have organized for their inclusion in this fare plan. There are also very bad parts of SEPTA’s proposal: fare increases, cash users still paying full fare for transfers, ride limits, and Regional Rail is still unaffordable for many. The SEPTA board should not pass a flawed fare proposal during a pandemic. Instead we should address all these issues now with a better one year fare schedule.
Every day without a fare increase is a blessing, but there is still no reason to pass a fare plan that was proposed before the pandemic. We should experience, for at least one year, a transit system that allows equal access for all riders.