• SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

  • Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.
Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

Moderator: AlexC

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  by bikentransit
 
Due diligence and prudence are always sound routes. So Key or NPT will be roughly 3 to 4 years behind schedule when it finally takes in it's first fare, possibly longer on regional rail.
  by JeffK
 
MACTRAXX wrote:The entire NPT system is going to be a huge change for SEPTA riders and it will need to be phased in gradually and I give SEPTA credit for admitting that they are behind schedule and that their prime goal is to get it right and not experience the problems that Chicago had ...
YES! As a veteran of 3-plus decades designing IT systems I definitely agree that getting a product right is far more important than releasing it on an arbitrary schedule. (Can anyone say Windows ME?) I'm also pleased to see that SEPTA is taking cues from what hasn't worked well in other systems. That's a major turnaround from the days when they seemed to feel they had nothing to learn from other operators' successes and failures.

I also share your two concerns about gating CC platforms and how intermodal fares will be assessed. IMO gates are going to be an inconvenience for daily commuters, a mess for those unfamiliar with the system, and a potentially dangerous blockade whenever there's a special event. I'm thinking of the debacle in NY/NJ a few years ago where passengers overwhelmed tunnels and corridors, trapping many and leading to heat exhaustion and injuries. That mess was due to the limits of existing construction, but it seems just plain stupid for SEPTA to create bottlenecks where none exist. Regarding transfers, does anyone know if it will be possible for riders to get an accounting of how their fares were calculated? Admittedly an electronic system should have far fewer misinterpretations than what happens currently ("But I already paid for a transfer!"). Even so, if fare calcs aren't transparent anyone with a complicated trip would never know whether what they paid was accurate; worse, any electronic glitch could rapidly under- or overcharge hundreds of riders before - or if - it was caught.

That said I have to respectfully take issue with the idea that the current system works well. Anyone who boards a train at a station without a ticket office or who needs tokens in the suburbs hits one of the system's inadequacies head-on. The need to pay transfer and/or zone charges separately is another inefficiency that puts an ironic spin on SEPTA's old slogan "Serious about change". For me the current system works only because it's what most of us grew up with, sort of the same way generations in England bought things with shillings and florins, or we Yanks insist it's simple to measure in feet and pounds rather than using Base 10. And (warning - soapbox issue here) anyone who is loyal to paying a full-cash fare is simply wasting money.
  by SCB2525
 
Glossing over delays, everyone seems to have let SEPTA off the hook for the horrifyingly boring and lazy name its settled on for the fare system itself. And I STILL have heard no serious inquiry or talk about free transfers a la MetroCard.
  by Tritransit Area
 
SCB2525 wrote:Glossing over delays, everyone seems to have let SEPTA off the hook for the horrifyingly boring and lazy name its settled on for the fare system itself. And I STILL have heard no serious inquiry or talk about free transfers a la MetroCard.
Indeed.

We already went through the tarriffs for the NPT system, which included favorites like the trip limits for weekly and monthly passes. It seems like SEPTA may be in better shape than it was in 2013 when the last fare increase went into effect. Perhaps when the budget for FY 2017 comes into play, with the proposed fare increase, the discussion about free transfers can become a bit more serious, especially since NPT will hopefully be in effect, at least in the city, by that time.

I'm hoping for free transfers as well...that are more in line with what the DC Area and Portland offers - unlimited transferring with the payment of a base fare for about 2 hours. This will allow people to make the more efficient choices for a faster journey to their location, instead of relying on slow buses for the sake of retaining a 1 seat ride so they don't have to pay a transfer fee.
  by ExCon90
 
That's just about what happened when New York instituted the free-transfer-within-two-hours policy on buses and subways. I think overall ridership and revenue went up. (But how do we know it'll work in Philadelphia?)
Incidentally, this could fit in with the plan reportedly being discussed to split the 23 into two shorter routes. If transfers were free there might be a big difference in 23 ridership north and south of Erie Ave.
  by SCB2525
 
If transfers were free it would likely wind up saving SEPTA operating costs as now the long routes parallel to rail in general wouldn't be as saturated on their more extreme ends; people would be more apt to just take the feeder route and jump on the BSL/MFL. The feeder routes would have to be bolstered in headway, but that is much cheaper and easier to do on routes of manageable length. In general, its cheaper to operate a service that feeds into a high-capacity rail backbone.

The 23 would remain heavy above Erie, but below; I can't imagine anything but local traffic between Erie and say Spring Garden.
  by JeffK
 
SCB2525 wrote:If transfers were free it would likely wind up saving SEPTA operating costs as now the long routes parallel to rail in general wouldn't be as saturated on their more extreme ends; people would be more apt to just take the feeder route and jump on the BSL/MFL.
It's never made sense to me why SEPTA, with a route layout that relies so heavily on multi-vehicle trips, should put so many impediments in the way of efficient use of its vehicles. They know that the comparatively high costs of transfers distorts usage of bus lines that parallel rail, yet in the past they've proposed counterproductive ideas like increasing transfer fees from feeder routes like the C bus to the BSL.

High transfer charges are another example of the mindset that underlies policies like the RRD cash surcharge. Rather than providing a positive incentive (e.g. TVMs) that would make it easier to buy tickets in advance, SEPTA instead chose to make it more difficult to pre-purchase and then punish riders who can't jump through all of the required hoops.

I know I've beaten this drum before, but when you look at SEPTA's rejection of POP, their insistence on gating CC stations, the prevalence of surcharges, etc. they're still more interested in getting a dime with 100% certainty versus taking a chance on getting a dollar. I'm really concerned that fixation has bled over into NPT.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Jeff and Everyone:

I recall the mention that one of the reasons for SEPTA's high $1 transfer charge is that they actually consider
it to be a revenue stream (this may have been from DVARP) and with their "hub-and-spoke" system that relies on
convenient transfers between vehicles a two hour unlimited or at least one free transfer between connecting
routes could only help ridership - instead of forcing riders to use a single vehicle to save on the transfer charge...

I feel that how transfers and ride counts are implemented when the NPT Key card begins use will show us all if
this new system will make it easier-and cheaper-to transfer between vehicles or will it be more of the same with
riders trying to save on transfer charges - or more importantly trying to manage card use under a "cap" scenario
in which each vehicle used would count towards a number limit...

A best case here would be to have a two hour unlimited free transfer allowing free use for that period and to count
a multi vehicle trip during that period one continuous ride under a cap limit...The question is would SEPTA go along
with this making the new KEY system more attractive to use?

MACTRAXX
  by loufah
 
SCB2525 wrote:If transfers were free it would likely wind up saving SEPTA operating costs as now the long routes parallel to rail in general wouldn't be as saturated on their more extreme ends; people would be more apt to just take the feeder route and jump on the BSL/MFL.
That's a good point, but the story is a bit different in, say, the western suburbs, where transfers via 69th Street are practically required unless your departure and destination points are at the same latitude. SEPTA has done a fairly good job at scheduling, and most vehicles are full, but not so full that passengers are denied entry, when they leave 69th Street. Despite this, the lines have low farebox recovery rates because the vehicles pretty much empty out 2 or 3 miles into the run. (I once looked at the numbers for the 105 from the annual service plan document; despite being SRO between 69th Street and Ardmore every time I've ridden it, on average it carries just a few passengers per mile). I'd love free transfers, but SEPTA would be leaving a lot of money on the table, and that may lead to decreased service.
  by JeffK
 
loufah wrote:
SCB2525 wrote:If transfers were free it would likely wind up saving SEPTA operating costs as now the long routes parallel to rail in general wouldn't be as saturated on their more extreme ends; people would be more apt to just take the feeder route and jump on the BSL/MFL.
That's a good point, but the story is a bit different in, say, the western suburbs, where transfers via 69th Street are practically required unless your departure and destination points are at the same latitude. SEPTA has done a fairly good job at scheduling, and most vehicles are full, but not so full that passengers are denied entry, when they leave 69th Street. Despite this, the lines have low farebox recovery rates because the vehicles pretty much empty out 2 or 3 miles into the run. (I once looked at the numbers for the 105 from the annual service plan document; despite being SRO between 69th Street and Ardmore every time I've ridden it, on average it carries just a few passengers per mile). I'd love free transfers, but SEPTA would be leaving a lot of money on the table, and that may lead to decreased service.
I'm wondering if NPT would be sophisticated enough to support some kind of "hybrid" policy that charged for transfers between intersecting lines but allowed free exchanges on specific overlapping routes and/or at specific stations. One poster child is of course the C bus versus the BSL. For ex. if the system recorded a person boarding the C and then transferring to the BSL within some time window, no transfer fee would be charged. Ditto for routes on Market Street and the MFL.

Based on years of work as a software developer my 2¢ is that the technical parts shouldn't be all that horrendous, but as a rider I wonder if special cases like I described would just be more patches in what's already a crazy-quilt fare system.
  by bikentransit
 
The technical aspects ARE horrendous. That's why it is on hold with no fix in sight. Hint: GPS.
  by JeffK
 
bikentransit wrote:The technical aspects ARE horrendous. That's why it is on hold with no fix in sight. Hint: GPS.
I'm sad to hear that. It wouldn't be the first time a system got caught up in some problem that looked like speed bump but turned out to be K2 + Everest.
  by CComMack
 
bikentransit wrote:The technical aspects ARE horrendous. That's why it is on hold with no fix in sight. Hint: GPS.
Source?
  by JeffersonLeeEng
 
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/loca ... are-system" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair use quote...
SEPTA is getting closer to making its electronic fare-payment system reality.

The transporation agency is working to iron out any wrinkles with the smartcard fare-paying system, said Joe Casey, SEPTA general manager.

"We expect to start the pilot program in a couple of weeks and, hopefully, roll it out by the end of the calendar year," he said.
  by sammy2009
 
JeffersonLeeEng wrote:http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/loca ... are-system

Fair use quote...
SEPTA is getting closer to making its electronic fare-payment system reality.

The transporation agency is working to iron out any wrinkles with the smartcard fare-paying system, said Joe Casey, SEPTA general manager.

"We expect to start the pilot program in a couple of weeks and, hopefully, roll it out by the end of the calendar year," he said.
Good i hope its actually on time...they should really let some of the public test the system.
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