If its board approves next month, SEPTA will offer one free transfer for SEPTA Key Travel Wallet users and reduce the child fare to $1 on July 1. Also if approved, the authority will postpone a 50-cent increase to the SEPTA Key base fare until at least January.
The effort hopes to bring relief during the coronavirus pandemic, SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards said Tuesday.
“We wanted to get out in front of all of the elements that we feel will be helpful on people’s wallets and will help them save money as we all recover together,” she said.
Earlier in the day, she and other transit leaders across the country called for billions of dollars more in federal relief.
Advocates have long rallied for an end to SEPTA’s $1 transfer fee. The city has made a case for its removal, calling it “a barrier for many transit riders to affordably and efficiently” use SEPTA.
Fare for up to three children, ages 5 through 11, would each cost $1 — an adjustment from a full $2.50 cash fare on transit and half the regular fare on Regional Rail.
SEPTA is also looking to introduce three-day passes, including a “Convenience Pass” on transit designed for shift workers and riders with flexible work schedules, valid for 72 hours after an initial tap. A rollout could come in the fall.
SEPTA plans to hold virtual public hearings on its fare restructuring and its capital and operating budgets this month. The plan also raises prices of weekly and monthly passes for transit and Regional Rail riders.
Plummeting ridership has contributed to a financial challenge unlike any SEPTA has ever seen. The agency heavily counts on fares, planning a $1.53 billion operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with $481 million coming from passenger revenue and $780 million from state subsidies.
SEPTA expects at least a $300 million loss of revenue through the end of June 2021 and has received $643 million from the CARES Act to help stem losses.
During a news conference Tuesday, Richards joined transit leaders from New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), NJ Transit, San Francisco Bay Area transit agencies, and others in painting a bleak picture for public transportation without additional aid.
The MTA estimates agencies will need an extra $32 billion to cover losses this year and in 2021. Richards said how much of that SEPTA will need is “tough to calculate.”
“We don’t know where we’ll have to save costs,” she said, but “everything will be in consideration because it’s going to be extremely tight.”