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August 19, 2015

More than 100,000 papal passes remain unsold

SEPTA is now offering the passes in bulk

Papal Visit Transportation
SEPTA Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A SEPTA Regional Rail train.

More than 100,000 papal passes remain unsold for SEPTA's Regional Rail service, spokeswoman Jerri Williams said Wednesday.

That figure represents more than one-quarter of the 350,000 passes SEPTA offered via an online lottery. The one-day passes, which cost $10, will be the only fare accepted during the papal visit.

The unsold passes will go on sale Friday at most of the 18 outlying stations designated as departure points when Pope Francis visits Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27. Passes also can be purchased at Suburban and Jefferson stations in Center City.

SEPTA made 175,000 passes available for each day. The agency initially tried selling them online on a first-come, first-serve basis in July. However, the website selling the tickets crashed when multitudes of customers tried purchasing the tickets the moment the online sale began. 

Demand for the tickets seemingly has changed.

Williams said she was surprised that so many papal passes remain available, particularly given the rush the initial sale experienced.

"That's one of the reasons we had to do the lottery," Williams said. "There really was no way of knowing what the interest was. And there still isn't."

Williams said SEPTA still expects to sell out. SEPTA now is allowing businesses, organizations and groups to purchase tickets in bulk.

"The good thing about it is we're getting lots of calls from businesses and hospitals interested in buying in bulk, which we didn't offer before," Williams said. "I think that we're going to be in very good shape."

Various parishes also have contacted SEPTA about purchasing tickets in bulk, Williams said. Many now are considering busing their attendees to outlying SEPTA stations rather than driving them into the city.

Given the massive road closures and the impermeable 'traffic box' engulfing Center City, Williams remains optimistic many pilgrims now will opt to take SEPTA into the city. The road closures  were announced after SEPTA's lottery concluded and might cause people to reconsider driving to the papal events.

"They're going to really take a second look at coming in on SEPTA," Williams said.

Individuals may purchase up to 10 papal passes for each day. However, groups interested in bulk sales can email SEPTA at papalbulkpasses@septa.org. Tickets will remain on sale through Thursday, Sept. 24 or until they sell out.

SEPTA will shuttle passengers from 18 stations in an attempt to expedite travel into Center City, where Pope Francis will participate in the Festival of Families on Saturday and host a Sunday afternoon mass. About 1.5 million people are expected to flood the city for the papal visit.

Here is a map showing the outlying SEPTA stations designated as departure points for the papal visit:

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