New Jersey

SEPTA Sale of Special Tickets for Pope's Visit Comes to Screeching Halt

SEPTA will not resume sales of one day regional passes this week for Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia due to technical issues.

Sales of special SEPTA passes for the Papal visit to Philadelphia during September's World Meeting of Families quickly went off the rail Monday morning causing the transit agency to suspend sales after only a short period of time. On Tuesday SEPTA announced they won't resume the sales this week as they continue to work on the issue.

"We have been working with IT consultants over the last two days, and are still considering the best option to address the high interest among customers interested in purchasing the pass, and the heavy volume on the e-commerce site," said SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch.

At 9 a.m. Monday SEPTA began to release one-day Regional Rail passes through a new e-commerce website for the Papal Visit. The site was experiencing "technical difficulties" less than an hour into the sale, however, and a SEPTA spokeswoman said the transit authority was working to resolve those issues.

"While SEPTA was prepared for high volume when online sales began at 9 a.m. today, the traffic to the e-commerce site launched for pass sales was significantly higher than anticipated," said Busch.

Most people trying to buy the passes didn't get the chance to complete the sale.

FAQs: Buying Your Pope Pass

SEPTA plans to sell 175,000 of the $10 passes for each day (Sept. 26 and Sept. 27) that the Pontiff is in town. An analysis of the activity Monday showed 54,000 customers visited the e-commerce site within the first minute after it was launched, according to Busch.

"We will continue to evaluate the best option for us to move forward with the sale of the Papal Passes," Busch said. "We may continue to work with the IT consultants to improve the e-commerce site; we are also considering working with an outside vendor to sell the passes for us."

With Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia almost two months away, two of the biggest transportation agencies in the area sold passes and tickets for travel during the Papal visit.

PATCO didn't experience the same issues when they put special passes on sale. Starting at 8 a.m. Monday, July 20, PATCO began selling FREEDOM cards for non-stop service westbound to Center City Philadelphia on September 26-27 between each of the following four New Jersey stations and 9/10th & Locust Street station:

  • Lindenwold
  • Woodcrest
  • Ferry Avenue
  • Broadway (Walter Rand Transportation Center)

In addition, Amtrak trains will require reservations for the weekend of the Papal Visit and visitors are encouraged to book their tickets now, which are currently available on the Amtrak website.

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