SEPTA expands senior discounts
On the day transfers disappear, those 65 and up can ride buses and subways free even during rush hour.
By Larry Eichel
Inquirer Senior Writer
Tomorrow, even as it begins charging higher fares for transfers, SEPTA will start passing along a new break for senior citizens.
Thanks to the new state transit bill, restrictions on senior discounts will disappear.
That means riders 65 and up will ride free on buses, as well as the Broad Street Subway and the Market-Frankford Line, all day every day. Seniors have had to pay full fare on weekdays from 7 to 8 a.m. and 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. They rode free at all other times.
On Regional Rail, all senior rides contained within Pennsylvania will cost $1. Most senior rides have cost that, but seniors have had to pay full fare for weekday trains arriving in Center City between 7 and 8 a.m. and departing between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Money to finance the new policy, being implemented statewide by the state Department of Transportation, comes from the transit bill signed by Gov. Rendell this month. A PennDot spokesman said the bill removed language that barred using state funds to pay for discounted rides during peak hours. The breaks for seniors are funded through the Pennsylvania Lottery.
WAS THIS LAWSUIT NECESSARY?
SEPTA'S TRANFER CRISIS DOESN'T NEED TO BE ONE
IS IT NECESSARY for SEPTA to eliminate transfers?
According to a Common Pleas Court judge, no . . . at least not quite yet.
Judge Gary DeVito granted a stay of execution for riders, ruling the transfers to remain in effect at least until Aug. 6.
In an all-day hearing yesterday, the day before it was set to eliminate transfers, SEPTA made a case that the 50-year-old paper transfer is outdated, puts a cash-handling burden on SEPTA drivers, and is hard to monitor.
And the city argued that SEPTA's proposal is unfair, unwise and, now with an expected influx of state dedicated funding, unnecessary.
By Larry Eichel
Inquirer Senior Writer
After a daylong hearing at City Hall, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge decided that he needed a few more days to decide whether to prevent SEPTA from going ahead with its plans to do away with the 60-cent transfer.
So last night, Judge Gary F. DiVito issued a temporary injunction maintaining the status quo until Monday - blocking a plan that was supposed to go into effect this morning.
Under the transit agency's plan, passengers using cash or tokens are to be charged a second full fare whenever they move from one bus to another - or between buses and the Broad Street Subway or Market-Frankford Line.
Attorneys representing the City of Philadelphia had asked DiVito yesterday to issue a temporary injunction blocking the change.
City officials said that as many as 45,000 adult riders and 18,000 schoolchildren could be affected by the change, which Mayor Street opposes.
Posted on Tue, Jul. 31, 2007
The city is protesting that the elimination of transfers will impose an undue hardship on some riders by increasing their fare by 200 percent. It is also concerned about the burden this could put on the 30,000 schoolchildren who get tokens.
The city claims that SEPTA and the school district have not talked about the transfer situation. The district says otherwise, and that it has had a series of meetings with SEPTA on moving to an all-transpass system, but that many problems remain to be fixed.
Is elimination of transfers critical to SEPTA's ability to make its budget? SEPTA needs to make a better case for exactly how. Can it postpone the transfer elimination for even a few weeks to make the transition easier? That shouldn't happen unless it forces the key parties - the city, SEPTA and the district - to get in a room and find a win-win solution for everyone. Unless these players find a way to be better allies, malt-liquor ads are going to be the least of our problems.