Free transfers and more SEPTA trains this week

PHOTO: Melissa Mitman

Most Regional Rail lines will begin running once an hour Monday, and almost all subway stations reopened Sunday as SEPTA continues to revive service.

In addition, fare reductions adopted by the authority’s board last week will go into effect Wednesday. SEPTA’s leaders hope the changes will help people who are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic.

The authority’s workforce and bottom line have been deeply affected by COVID-19, and, in April, it suspended six Regional Rail lines and shuttered 18 stops on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines.

SEPTA has been picking up service as the region continues to reopen. Philadelphia is scheduled to move to the Green Phase of the state’s recovery plan Friday, though officials said late last week that the city might not hit its targets in time.

Most bus routes and the MFL and BSL returned to a regular schedule last month, but Regional Rail remained severely curtailed.

All lines were reactivated Sunday, except for the Chestnut Hill West and Cynwyd lines, which officials said would remain suspended for the time being.

Trains will come once an hour, except on the Airport Line, which will operate every 30 minutes.

On weekends, all lines will run every two hours, aside from the Media/Elwyn and Fox Chase lines, which will run every two to three hours. The Airport Line will offer one-hour service on the weekends.

“This is a significant step forward for SEPTA and our region as we work through the phases of COVID-19 recovery,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said in a statement. “We are excited to see more customers returning, and we want to assure them that we are ready with safe and reliable service.”

Prior to this week, Regional Rail lines that were operating ran only once every two hours.

All stops are now open on the MFL and BSL as well, except for 5th Street and Susquehanna-Dauphin, both of which are closed for construction.

Commuters returning to public transportation in July may also be able to save money, especially if they need to transfer.

SEPTA, under a plan approved by its board Thursday, is allowing riders with a Key Card one free transfer within a two-hour window.

Children under the age of 12 who are accompanied by an adult will also be able to ride all modes for free, a change from the authority’s original proposal, which was $1. Currently, children 5 and older pay full price.

Advocates have long pushed for free transfers, and some had also been asking the authority to scrap the fee for children before SEPTA revised its Fare Restructuring Plan earlier this month to allow free rides for kids.

“This eases the burden for families who rely on transit and for riders who rely on transferring to get around our city — many of whom are shown to come from areas of deep poverty,” 5th Square, a political action committee that focuses on urban issues, said in an email to supporters.

SEPTA has said planned increases to the costs of weekly and monthly passes are being delayed until at least Jan. 1 due to the economic downturn.

“As people return to work and their normal routines, safe and reliable public transportation is going to play a critical role,” SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale Deon said in a statement. “The changes in the Fare Restructuring Plan will help our riders during this difficult time and aid in the region’s recovery.”

The price changes were part of a process the authority undergoes every three years to reconsider its fares.

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