NBC10 - Cydney Long
SEPTA announces it plans to hike fares this summer and change to a new payment system the following year. NBC10's Cydney Long reports.
The end of tokens is coming to SEPTA, but thanks to new technology and lower revenues as fewer people ride on city transit, so are fare increases across the board.
SEPTA unveiled a proposed budget today for the next fiscal year that calls for fare hikes on buses, subways, trolleys, regional rail trains, PATCO transfers and monthly passes to take effect on July 1.
The fare hikes range from a quarter for cash fares on buses, subways and trolleys to $9 for a Monthly TransPass. The cost of a cash fare will go up another 25 cents to $2.50 when New Payment Technology, or NPT, is instituted in 2014.
The cost of a token will go up 35 cents to $1.80 in July and remain at $1.80 when NPT begins around July 2014. Transfers will remain at $1 through the transitions.
SEPTA is in need of more revenue with ridership numbers down so far this year. In its February Revenue and Ridership Report, SEPTA reported that ridership since the fiscal year began July 1, 2012 is 1.8 percent below budget and 1.9 percent off last year’s pace.
February marked the fourth-straight month where ridership fell in the city. In total, SEPTA has given 3.21 million, or 1.5 percent, fewer rides this year compared to last. The transit agency report mentions days lost to Superstorm Sandy as cutting into the total ridership for the year.
One area where ridership is up, though, is Regional Rail. Monthly ridership was up for the third-straight month, according to SEPTA.
Regional Rail passengers will need to pay more under SEPTA’s new plan and with the NPT coming, the agency plans to expand Zones 3 and 4 while hiking fares as much as 75 cents depending on the zone. Weekly TrailPasses will also go up as much at $15 for monthly passengers using Zone 4 who will need to pay $191 each month.
With changes coming, riders are already preparing to pay more. The proposed fare hikes could cost southwest Philadelphia’s Julius Miles an extra $96 a year.
“I’ll spend too much money trying to get back and forth from work every day,” Miles told NBC10’s Cydney Long. “And we’ve got to get to work to take care of our families.”
There are some exceptions to fare increases.
The costs could be less on Regional Rail if passengers use a certain type of NPT. The proposed budget calls for reduced Regional Rail prices -- in some cases up to 20 cents cheaper than current fares -- if passengers use a Stored Value Smart Media Card instead of a tap and go vending machine card.
Also, passengers with disabilities will continue to only pay $1 for a ride on city transit and seniors and children on Regional Rail will continue to receive discounts, in some cases the fare could be less.
SEPTA also plans to continue with a plan to eliminate controversial gender stickers this summer. Area lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates had questioned the policy.
SEPTA will be holding public hearings next month in all five Pennsylvania Counties that the transit authority serves where the public can find out more about the plan.