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June 26, 2020

Children under 12 soon can ride SEPTA for free – with a paying adult

SEPTA Board suspends fare increases, approves free transfers

Transportation Septa
septa fare restructuring plan Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

SEPTA has approved a new fare restructuring plan aimed at making the transit system more affordable, a response to the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEPTA has suspended its scheduled fare increase and adopted other measures designed to migrate the financial hardships many riders are facing during the COVID-19 crisis. 

As part of the fare restructuring plan approved Thursday by the SEPTA Board, children under age 12 will receive free rides on all transportation modes. Transit riders will receive free transfers. 

The plan, which takes effect July 1, included numerous changes to the one SEPTA proposed in March – prior to the public health crisis. Riders and pushed SEPTA to address the economic woes produced by the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We have adapted the fare restructuring plan to meet the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic while staying focused on the goals of improving equity, and better meeting the needs of low-income communities and families," SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards said.

All children under age 12 will be able to ride for free if they are accompanied by an adult. The March plan sought to charge a $1 fare for children ages 5-11. Children currently pay full price on transit and half price on Regional Rail. 

Transit riders will have two hours to use their free transfer. They currently must pay a $1 transfer fee and only have 90 minutes to use it. 

The standard transit fare will remain at $2.50 as SEPTA has deferred all scheduled fare increases until at least January. 

SEPTA also will roll out new Three-Day Passes aimed at providing an option for people who commute less than five days per week, a new reality for many people during the pandemic. The passes are expected to become available sometime this fall. 

Some of the changes requested by advocates were not included in the plan, approved as part of SEPTA's fiscal year 2021 operating budget and five-year financial projection plan. Among them: a yearlong fare reduction requested by the Philadelphia Transit Riders Union.

More riders are expected to return to SEPTA as the Philadelphia region enters the green phase of Pennsylvania's reopening plan Friday. 

"As people return to work and their normal routines, safe and reliable public transportation is going to play a critical role," SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said. "The changes in the fare restructuring plan will help our riders during this difficult time and aid in the region’s recovery."


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