Coronavirus could impact your PATCO commute

A PATCO train heading to Philly
STUNTPILOT22/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The coronavirus outbreak in China might be impacting your PATCO commute.

The PATCO High-Speed Line Freedom cards are produced in a manufacturing plant in China, which has been shuttered by the virus.

The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and there have been over 75,000 cases confirmed so far, according to the World Health Organization. There have also been over 2,000 deaths due to the virus.

As of Thursday morning, there are 15 cases of the virus in the United States; however, none have been reported in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or New York, according to government officials.

Inquirer.com reported that Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) CEO John Hanson used his emergency authority on Wednesday to replenish the PATCO card stock.

It was reported that a shipment of 30,000 cards is expected to arrive this week. Before this action was taken, official were left with a mere week’s worth supply of the cards, leaving management desperate to pull together a solution.

Inquirer.com reported that Paragon ID, which makes the smartcards, had 10,000 cards available to ship from the United Kingdom.

The purchase of the card totals to $37,700 through the emergency action.

DRPA spokesperson Mike Williams said to Inquirer.com after a board meeting Wednesday that the cards should arrive in Camden by Friday. They will also make a stop in Vermont, where they will be imprinted with the Freedom logo.

“We hear they closed the factory, had sent all the workers home, nobody’s been back, so the vendor had to scramble, we had to scramble to get those cards,” PATCO general manager John Rink told Inquirer.com.

Hanson said, “We really don’t know when the factory’s going to open back up in China. As you might imagine, we don’t have a lot of contact with them,” Hanson told Inquirer.com.

The cards were first introduced in 2007. They can be purchased at the Freedom Card Service center at PATCO’s Broadway station, as well as via vending machines at PATCO stations. For less frequent riders, paper tickets can also be purchased.

Inquirer.com reports that more than 70 percent of PATCO riders use Freedom cards, with approximately 500 purchased per week.

“We have not run out of Freedom cards at this point. We have Freedom cards, although the supply is small and dwindling,” Hanson told Inquirer.com.

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