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SEPTA to hike fares and swap out old payment system

Starting next year, passengers on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, can expect to ditch the tokens and start using a modernized ‘smart card’ payment system.

The new system also means fares will go up starting as soon as July 1 this year, the first change in cash fares in over a decade.

According to a March 14 press release, the New Payment Technology system, or NPT, will feature smart cards which patrons can purchase before a trip at kiosks in SEPTA stations or from existing vendors. Instead of using tokens, riders can touch their smart cards, or other compatible credit and debit cards, to a device that records where riders get on and off and charges them accordingly.

NPT and smart cards will work across all SEPTA trains, trolleys, and buses.

The new system also features fare increases, which will occur in two phases. Cash fares will increase from $2.00 for bus, subway, and trolley rides to $2.25 on July 1 of this year. Tokens will go from $1.55 to $1.80.

In January 2014 cash fares will rise again from $2.25 to $2.50. Riders who purchase smart cards, or who register their credit/debit cards with SEPTA will maintain the discounted rate of $1.80. Transfers will remain $1. Riders who use smart cards not purchased from or registered with SEPTA will incur a $.50 transaction fee for each ride.

Weekly TransPasses, which currently allow riders unlimited access to city buses, trolleys, and subways, will go from $22 to $24.50. Monthly TransPasses will also see an increase from $83 to $92.

According to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer, these new passes will no longer allow for unlimited travel in an effort to prevent card sharing. Instead, weekly TransPasses will allow for up to 50 rides and monthly TransPasses up to 200.

Regional rail zones will also be consolidated and suburban rates will increase. The Haverford community will be less affected by these increases as the Haverford and Ardmore stations on the Paoli-Thorndale Line (formerly R5) will remain in the same zone. Prepaid one-way evening and weekend rates for those riders will increase from $3.50 to $3.75 with pre-paid weekday rates seeing an increase from $4.50 to $4.75. Cash fares for the same trains will increase from $4 to $5 for evening and weekend rides and $5 to $6 for weekday rides.

These changes are still awaiting final approval. Public hearings on SEPTA’s fare increases and technology changes will take place this coming week. For complete details on the fare changes and public hearings schedule, see:

http://www.septa.org/notice/asp/pdf/FareIncrease.pdf

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20130414_SEPTA_Hearings.html

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