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May 12, 2020

SEPTA plans to implement free transfers, push back fare restructuring to 2021

Child fare reductions, three-day passes also slated to take effect in coming months

Public Transit
SEPTA Transfer COVID-19 Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

SEPTA aims to implement a free transfer policy, child fare reductions and new three-day passes ahead of its proposed fare restructuring plan, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

SEPTA plans to move forward with offering riders free transfers beginning in July, even as the transit authority's larger fare restructuring plan gets pushed back a year amid the COVID-19 crisis.

In March, SEPTA revealed plans to restructure several price points across the system pending a series of community meetings and formal board approval. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, those meetings are going to be held virtually, with details still to come.

“The fare restructuring plan was designed to improve equity, affordability and ease-of-travel for our customers,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards said. “We are proud to be a partner in the region’s economic comeback, and we look forward to helping our customers as we get through the COVID-19 crisis together.”

While price increases will be delayed until 2021, SEPTA aims to implement the free transfer and a reduction in child fares on July 1.

Up to three children between the ages of 5 and 11 will be able to ride for just $1 when traveling with a fare-paying adult on all SEPTA services. Up to three children under five years old will ride for free with a fare paying adult.

One free transfer will be available for customers who use the Travel Wallet or SEPTA Key. The change will result in a $1 savings per-trip for customers who now pay $2 for a base trip plus $1 for a transfer.

Under the delayed fare restructuing, the proposed Travel Wallet base fare on the SEPTA Key card would increase from $2 to $2.50. SEPTA would still offer customers one free transfer, with additional transfers priced at $1 each.

SEPTA also plans to advance the rollout of a three-day convenience pass, with an expected debut in the fall. The pass is valid for 72 hours after the initial tap. These were priced at $18 under the March proposal, compared to the current one-day convenience pass that costs $9.

A new three-day Independence Pass will be tailored to commuters who use the system a few non-consecutive days  per week. The price and a debut date for this pass has not yet been determined. The existing one-day Independence Pass costs $13. 

While SEPTA has been limited for the last month under its Lifeline Service Schedule, the authority plans to resume most normal transit and fare collection on May 17.