Pay on board? No more, says SEPTA

Commuters wait for a train at Suburban Station in Philadelphia. Beginning Monday

Commuters wait for a train at Suburban Station in Philadelphia. Beginning Monday

After a month of turmoil, some SEPTA riders will notice a new wrinkle in their commutes next week.

Starting Monday, regional rail passengers will no longer be able to pay on board if they’re leaving a Center City stop during the evening rush.

Those departing from Temple, Jefferson, Suburban, 30th Street, and University City stations between 3 and 6:30 p.m. will have to pay beforehand and show proof of that payment — either a ticket or a pass — to a SEPTA employee stationed atop lobby stairwells. Those employees will check the tickets before allowing customers onto the train platform.

The new procedure is supposed to alleviate crowding and chaos at some of SEPTA’s busiest stations, which have become busier since the transit system pulled about 100 damaged cars off the rails earlier this month.

“This is a temporary procedure we’re implementing, and it’s really to keep people moving,” said SEPTA spokeswoman Carla Showell-Lee.

SEPTA officials don’t know how long the new system will be in place.

Showell-Lee said the transit agency heard from customers upset that fellow riders opting to purchase tickets on the train were never, in fact, required to pay. Overcrowded trains, she said, make it difficult for conductors to find non-ticketed customers and collect their money.

“It’s more an equity issue, actually,” said Showell-Lee. “Our customers want to ensure that everyone is complying to the same requirements.”

Though the fix is only temporary, it may be a glimpse into the future. SEPTA is expected to install SEPTA Key turnstiles at regional rail stations next fall. Those turnstiles would make pre-board payment mandatory and permanent.


Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal