Those who won the chance to buy regional rail tickets for during the pope’s visit as part of SEPTA’s lottery are now being notified, but some winners are less than thrilled.
Beth Whann is part of a group of around two dozen in Valley Forge who are looking to travel together.
Whann was offered 10 tickets, the maximum allowed, but not from her preferred station. SEPTA offered tickets from the Norristown station, her last choice.
Others in her group won tickets from stations that are more convenient, such as Paoli and Radnor.
“So it’s a safe bet that I won’t be buying all of my allotted,” Whann said.
Michelle Francl of Bryn Mawr requested four tickets, her way of getting to the pope’s Sunday mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. SEPTA freed up four tickets for her, though the departure time is later than she had wanted.
“We’re better off getting up at 6 in the morning and riding our bikes into the city,” Francl said.
The tickets offered to Whann and Francl were part of the nearly 330,000 presented to people who entered SEPTA’s lottery system. The random process followed the transit authority’s first shot at selling papal weekend transit tickets last month, which abruptly ended after SEPTA’s special e-commerce website collapsed under the weight of an influx of visitors.
Those offered tickets have three days to purchase them. Once the deadline passes, the tickets are forfeited and will be offered to people who entered the lottery but weren’t offered passes.
It’s unclear what stations or time slots have already sold out.
“We don’t want people to be prematurely disappointed,” SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said.
“We have no idea how many requests were duplicates (every member of family entered to increase chances, etc.) and will only truly know what stations are sold out after the payment deadline – Sunday night,” she said.
Unclaimed passes will be offered to lottery losers starting Monday. Following that, the remaining tickets will be on sale at four stations: Center City, 30th Street, Suburban and Jefferson.
About 20,000 tickets remain unsold. SEPTA says it will release final numbers next Friday.
Francl, meanwhile, says even if she lands the transit tickets she’s seeking, if she and her family can’t get on the parkway for the Mass, she’s willing to forgo the trip altogether.
Watching from a Jumbotron? No thanks, she says.
“I’m thinking, ‘Well, do I want to wait in line to get on a train, walk from 30th Street Station, to stand on a street corner and watch it on television?'”