In a 6-to-1 decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania yesterday ruled against SEPTA in its legal battle to eliminate paper transfers.

Commonwealth Court focused on a procedural issue, not the merits of the case, and declared the controversy moot.

After SEPTA eliminated the transfers and the city successfully appealed to Common Pleas Court, gaining their reinstatment, the SEPTA board in late September increased transfers from 60 cents to 75 cents.

As a result, the court said the controversy about whether SEPTA had abused its discretion "has ceased to exist."

A SEPTA statement yesterday said the agency was evaluating the impact of the decision. "SEPTA's ultimate goal is to install a modern fare collection system in which paper transfers will have no place," the statement said.

"What they basically have done in Commonwealth Court is put a period at the end of this SEPTA fare-hike case and the issue relating to transfers," said City Solicitor Romulo Diaz Jr.

Diaz contended that because the opinion had a strong endorsement of the city's position, he doubted that SEPTA would reconsider eliminating transfers until the new collection system is in place. *