Is This Fare?

Posted: September 20, 2007

TEMPORARILY defeated in court on its plan to eliminate paper transfers, SEPTA saw anticipated revenue drop last month. So it now proposes to raise by 15 cents the price on tokens and paper transfers. It will bring this to a board vote next week.

Frankly, this is not unreasonable. The stability and growth of the system depends on contributions not only from the state, which stepped up earlier in the year, but all the system's riders.

Had SEPTA's original plan gone into effect, the agency expected to take in $35 million of additional revenue. But SEPTA says it will lose about $300,000 a week because riders aren't dumb: It's cheaper to pay for a token and transfers than to buy weekly TransPasses. SEPTA wants to drive TransPass sales higher, as well as move to an electronic, cashless system.

In the court battle over the elimination of transfers, the city said it would hurt the poor, mostly minorities. SEPTA called such charges "an ugly smoke screen." SEPTA has appealed.

Battles like this would be eliminated altogether if SEPTA stopped talking about its modern fare-collection system and actually implemented it. Someone like the governor should step in and force SEPTA to fast-track this. *

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