Have thoughts on SEPTA’s latest fare proposal? Now’s your chance to let the authority know.
Officials heard from transit advocates and riders during its first operating budget and fare restructuring hearing held virtually Tuesday. SEPTA has also planned a 6 p.m. session and two sessions Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Pending board approval next month, SEPTA will offer one free transfer for SEPTA Key Travel Wallet users and lower the child fare to $1 on July 1. The authority also plans to postpone a 50-cent increase to the SEPTA Key base fare until at least January to bring relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly nonexistent ridership means SEPTA anticipates a revenue shortfall of about $125 million by the end of this fiscal year, officials said during the hearing. It expects $644 million from the federal CARES Act to keep service afloat, with about $613 million to go toward operating expenses.
The authority has planned a $1.53 billion operating budget for the coming fiscal year, with $481 million from passenger revenue and $780 million from state subsidies. It announced its latest fare restructuring in March.
The fare plan also raises prices of weekly and monthly passes for transit and Regional Rail riders and introduces three-day passes geared toward riders with flexible work schedules.
The authority heard from groups including 5th Square, Transit Forward Philadelphia, Philly Transit Riders Union, North Central Philadelphia Community Development Corp., Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, and Nationalities Service Center during its first hearing.
Members of 5th Square vocalized support for its 2020 Fair Fares platform that recommends SEPTA eliminate its transfer penalty entirely, begin fare capping, offer free rides for children, and accept TransPass on Zone 1 Regional Rail. Transit Forward Philadelphia, a new advocacy coalition, shares similar ideas.
“Adopting a more equitable fare platform will be critical to restoring ridership after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed while providing much-needed cost relief to its most financially burdened riders,” Will Tung, 5th Square organizer, said during the public hearing.
The Philly Transit Riders Union advocates for a plan that lowers fares for a year, knowing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will last. Tinamarie Russell of North Central Philadelphia Community Development Corp. also cautioned against fare increases.
“We don’t know how bad it’s going to affect us for this year, this pandemic,” she said during the hearing. “And it may be that we still won’t be working. ...”
The comment period ends Sunday. Comments can be sent via email to email@example.com or made by phone, 215-580-7772. They also can be mailed to: Director, SEPTA Operating Budgets, 1234 Market St., 9th Floor, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107.
SEPTA held virtual hearings on its proposed $640 million capital budget for the coming year last week.