SEPTA committee recommends kids ride for free in new fare proposal

SEPTA Rt. 48 bus

(Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

The SEPTA Board Budget, Planning and Information Technology Committee has proposed that children under 12 ride for free on all modes and that riders have up to two hours to transfer.

The committee made the suggestion before the board votes on the new fare proposal on June 25. If approved, the new fare plan goes into effect July 1.

“Equity is a top priority of the Fare Restructuring Plan, and these changes will help us better meet the needs of our low-income communities and traveling families,” said SEPTA general manager Leslie Richards. “It will also help put us in position to adapt to the changing needs of our customers as the region works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

SEPTA officials introduced the new fare restructuring proposal in March (before stay-at-home orders went into effect) amid growing calls to eliminate the transfer fees, which has been a pain point for transit equity advocates.

The new proposal included dollar fares for children between ages 5 and 11 and one free transfer within a 90-minute window. SEPTA also froze base cash fares at $2.50 and introduced new three-day passes for transit and Regional Rail. Increases were shifted to SEPTA Key Card, transpasses and Regional Rail trailpasses.

After a dire financial outlook for the region due to the coronavirus pandemic and major ridership losses, the authority offered to roll out the free transfer and reduce child fares in July, and delay fare increases until at least 2021.

Advocates weighed in on the fare proposal at virtual hearings held in May and urged SEPTA to offer unlimited free transfers and free child fares.

SEPTA considered the feedback from advocates and riders in making the recent revisions, along with recommendations from an independent hearing examiner who presided over public hearings.

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