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March 20, 2017

Online petition calls for SEPTA to eliminate $1 transfer fee

As SEPTA's payment modernization project continues to be implemented, Philadelphia-area residents are organizing to urge the transit agency to eliminate its transfer fee.

5th Square, a local political action committee, launched an online petition on Monday that calls for SEPTA officials to scrap a $1 fee to transfer between most routes to make the system run more efficiently.

"One SEPTA fare should cover your whole trip, from start to finish," the petition reads.

The fee is applied on most buses, trolleys and subway lines in the operating area. Notable exceptions include free interchanges at 30th Street Station and 13th Street Station between the Market-Frankford Line and trolley lines and City Hall Station between the MFL, Broad Street Line and trolley lines.

Last week, SEPTA unveiled price hikes across the board that are slated to go into effect in July. Single rides for Key Card users will increase from $1.80 to $2, while the same fare will increase from $2.25 to $2.50 for those using cash. However, the transfer fee was unchanged.

The group argues that the fee penalizes customers whose place of residence and destination aren't located on the same transit line. Furthermore, free transfers would alleviate the burden on SEPTA's system in Center City.

"For example, many riders will take the 23 bus all the way to Center City from Germantown, rather than transferring to the Broad Street Line at the Broad and Erie station. Taking the bus all the way downtown adds about an extra 20 minutes to the journey, but lots of people do this to avoid paying an extra $1 each way."

SEPTA's new Key Card removed the requirement for commuters to obtain physical transfer slips by simply tapping a card to a turnstile within 90 minutes of travel. But doing so will deduct $1 from customers' accounts.

While SEPTA officials have been focused on simplifying fares, the agency still included revenue from transfers in its fiscal year projection.