PHILADELPHIA. Getting to the platform at one of Center City’s railroad stations will involve going through new fare turnstiles in the near future if SEPTA goes ahead with a proposal that both helps collect fares during busy rush hour and moves the system toward better technology.
John McGee, head of SEPTA’s New Payment Technology, said the agency wants to make payment more uniform on Regional Rail and is considering two alternatives: gating all 153 stations — which he calls “crazy” — or putting “paid areas” on platforms at 30th Street, Suburban Station and Market East. Currently, the roughly 60,000 daily rail riders can buy a ticket on board or in advance, or use a TrailPass.
But some transit advocates oppose the move and argue that it’s aimed at reducing the number of customers who ride for free.
“We know that there are passengers whose tickets don’t get collected,” said Matt Mitchell, of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers. “We have opposed this gating for a number of reasons because we’re not yet convinced it can be done safely, [and] it’s a large inconvenience for a number of customers.”
Among riders, reaction was mixed.
“To have an automated system like that would be much more beneficial,” said Chris Cascio of Newark, Del.
But Michelle Stover, of Torresdale, said: “It’s only going to cause delays unless they’re going to change their train schedules”
No final decision has been made, McGee said, but will likely come this summer when SEPTA selects a vendor for its new fare system.