SEPTA riders will notice changes next week following board approval Thursday of the authority’s latest fare plan, a $1.53 billion operating budget, and $640 million capital budget for the coming fiscal year.
The authority introduced the fare proposal in March, but not all of its elements will kick in Wednesday, the start of its 2021 fiscal year.
SEPTA has planned for a 50-cent hike to the SEPTA Key’s base fare, as well as increases to weekly and monthly passes. Fare increases are postponed until at least January to provide riders relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last-minute tweaks that will kick in Wednesday include free fares for children under 12 and an additional half-hour for riders to take advantage of one free transfer.
Prior to the changes, children were charged a full $2.50 cash fare and half the regular cost on Regional Rail. Additional transfers are $1 using the SEPTA Key. Advocates and officials campaigned for SEPTA to eliminate its $1 transfer fee, called “a barrier for many transit riders to affordably and efficiently use the network” in a 2018 city report.
New three-day passes will be rolled out in the fall as part of the changes, hoping to be an incentive for workers with flexible schedules.
SEPTA usually plans for fare increases every three years.
Board members “truly are listening to what the public had to say during the public hearing process,” said SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “I was thrilled that we had such a high volume of comments and feedback. It makes our work so much more informed.”
Councilmember Helen Gym joined in public comments during Thursday’s virtual meeting.
“This approval will cement SEPTA as a key partner in the citywide effort to end structural poverty,” Gym said. “Your action today will bring affordability and comfort to so many families across this city, and I believe will ultimately serve as a long-term financial investment in SEPTA’s future and the future of public transit.”
Members of 5th Square, the urbanist political action committee, applauded SEPTA for the changes but recommended it offer more than one free transfer, support a reduced fare program for low-income riders, and make Regional Rail more accessible to transit riders.
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