Runaway train…fares?

Jessica May

Effective July 9, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) increased transit fares in an attempt to alleviate its budget deficit of $150 million.

According to the SEPTA Web site, a series of hearings were offered to the public beginning on April 10 to highlight two separate budget proposals known as Budget Plan A and Budget Plan B. While the two plans were drastically different, both were created in an attempt to add stability to the public transportation system.

In the end, Budget Plan A was chosen, which marked the first SEPTA rate increase since 2001. The plan involves the same cash base fare of $2 and an average fare increase of 11 percent, and it discontinues transfer tickets.

So how exactly will this affect Villanova students?

The rates for the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line to and from Central Philadelphia and Doylestown experienced several substantial changes.

Once the budget plan was implemented, the price of a one-way peak ticket rose from $4.50 to $5, while a one-way off-peak ticket now costs $4.25 as opposed to $3.

Students that purchase tickets at the time of boarding will also be charged the on-board sale price, whether or not the station is open. Therefore, a peak fare purchased on board the train will now cost $6, while an off-peak fare will cost $5.

While these price variations may seem insignificant, it is safe to say that many students accustomed to taking the SEPTA on a daily basis will find these new base prices to be quite an inconvenience.

However, once one considers the alternative Budget Plan B, the 11 percent fare increase doesn’t seem so terrible after all.

According to this secondary plan, fares would have increased by an average of 31 percent, with the base fare jumping from $2 to $2.50 and basic regional fares rising by as much as $2.50 per ticket.

Specifically, a one-way peak ticket would have been $5.50 as opposed to $4.50, while a one-way off-peak ticket would have cost $5.50 instead of $3.

Peak fares will still apply to the same weekday trains arriving at 30th Street Station, Suburban Station and Market East Station between 6:30 and 9 a.m., along with departing trains from the same stations between 4 and 6:30 p.m.

As for the elimination of transfer tickets, this section of the budget proposal is still being worked out.

The last update on the SEPTA Web site was dated Aug. 16 and stated that the sale of transfers will be continued until further notice.

For those Villanova students expecting to pay the old fares, it’s time to throw the old regional rail schedule away and replace it with a new brochure printed after July 9 with the new fares and rates.