SEPTA suspended its on-line sales of transit passes for the papal visit on Sept. 26 and 27 because of problems with its website.

SEPTA will announce Tuesday its plans for resuming sales.

Most passes remain unsold, SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said.

"The majority of the passes are still there. No one needs to worry that they're not going to be able to get a pass," she said.

The site, developed by SEPTA, was overwhelmed by would-be buyers when sales began at 9 a.m.

SEPTA workers had tested sales of 1700 per second over the weekend, Williams said, but the real-life volume on Monday "was much higher than we anticipated."

As the passes went on sale Monday, people reported pages not loading, error messages, and an inability to select and pay for tickets.

SEPTA said the cause of the problems wasn't immediately known, but the issues could be due to volume.

The transit agency said it was working to resolve the technical problems.

Two local companies, CapTech of Wayne, and Zivtech of Philadelphia, helped SEPTA design and operate its on-line sales site, and representatives of both companies were at SEPTA headquarters Monday, trying to fix the site.

"We'll get it right," said Williams. "We have plenty of time."

While the pope is in Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27, SEPTA Regional Rail riders will need special passes. Advance purchase of the passes is required.

Riders will need to buy a separate $10 pass for each day and select their station and travel time slot when purchasing the passes.

The Regional Rail trains will be running with express-type service and limited stops.

PATCO's preloaded passes for the papal visit also went on sale Monday morning. PATCO riders also can use Freedom Cards.

PATCO reported that sales on its website were going smoothly.

The Details

SEPTA and PATCO

SEPTA and PATCO were to start selling a limited number of special papal transit passes on Monday morning. SEPTA plans to sell 175,000 Regional Rail passes for each day Sept. 26 and 27, with a limit of 10,000 from each outlying station.

PATCO will sell 100,000 preloaded Freedom cards, good for one or two days.

SEPTA will sell one-day Regional Rail passes only online, at its website, www.septa.org, for $10 each, with sales limited to 10 per station, per purchase. A separate pass will be required for each of the two days.

Passes must be purchased for a specific station and departure period. Only two morning periods will be available: 5:30 to 8:30 a.m., and 8:30 a.m. to noon each day. Return trips will operate from 5:30 p.m. to midnight each day.

Passes will be mailed to purchasers, with a $1.95 shipping fee per purchase.

PATCO will sell one-day passes for $5 and two-day passes for $10 on its website, www.ridepatco.org/PapalVisit/, starting at 8 a.m. Monday, and at its Broadway station ticket office in Camden (from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday) and Woodcrest station in Cherry Hill (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays).

Current holders of PATCO Freedom cards can use their existing Freedom cards, at $2.50 per one-way trip.

Also, PATCO will open fences at Ninth/10th-Locust to let people out of the fare lines, instead of requiring them to go through turnstiles.

For non-rail passengers, three-day papal passes for subways, trolleys, and buses will go on sale for $10 online on July 27. SEPTA will sell 750,000 of those passes, good for Sept. 26 through 28.

On subways, trolleys, and buses, customers can also use tokens, and regular weekly and monthly passes.

Amtrak

All Amtrak trains will require reservations for the weekend of the papal visit. Visitors are encouraged to book tickets now, available on the Amtrak website, www.amtrak.com/home.

Sources: SEPTA, PATCO, Archdiocese of Philadelphia