Subway turnstiles remain locked during the Transit Workers Union Local 234 strike. The union operates SEPTA's buses, trolleys and subways in Philadelphia.

Subway turnstiles remain locked during the Transit Workers Union Local 234 strike. The union operates SEPTA's buses, trolleys and subways in Philadelphia.

Dan Levy / Billy Penn

What we know about fare hikes to fund the SEPTA strike deal

They were already going to go up next year, anyway.

The SEPTA strike is over, and a deal’s been made. Now it’s time pay for it.

Details of the five-year agreement reached between the transit authority and Transit Workers Union Local 234 have been scant, but the 4,700-member union had all along been seeking a cap to be lifted from their pensions, as well as promises of pay raises and benefit increases. At a press conference early this morning announcing the settlement, officials noted a fare increase would help fund the deal, but that uptick had already been planned.

“The money is in our budget now that we’ve gone through,” SEPTA board chair Pat Dean said during the press conference. “Under Act 44… we have the obligation to make sure we’re budgeted going out ten years. So have a 10-year look over the horizon that it’s in our budget. It’s in our numbers, and we think it’s a fair resolution for all.”

Earlier this year in March, SEPTA decided to postpone a fare increase (they increase fares about once every three years) that would have gone into effect in July. Why? Because the transit authority planned on launching SEPTA Key, the long-awaited digital fare payment system that was once again delayed as SEPTA workers went on strike. SEPTA, at the time, didn’t want to introduce a fare increase right around the time of launching the Key, The Inquirer reported.

That clearly wasn’t an issue, as the Key still hasn’t fully launched. New turnstiles have been installed across the system on buses, trolleys and the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines, but re-loadable smart cards haven’t rolled out yet. Officials had planned for an early November launch date after several delays before, but that was again pushed back as the transit authority dealt with a striking city division workforce that rendered the city without transportation for almost a week.

SEPTA still hasn’t set a public launch date for the new fare payment system, but its budget planned for a fiscal year 2017 launch, meaning it will likely (hopefully) roll out before the end of this year or in the first half of 2017.

Earlier this year when SEPTA decided to postpone the fare increase, officials said it would most likely be pushed to fiscal year 2018, meaning SEPTA fares will probably increase by July 2017. But at the time, the transit authority didn’t announce how much the fare increase might be, only that they usually vary across the El, BSL, trolley, bus and Regional Rail lines. In SEPTA’s 10-year plan, SEPTA wrote it would “implement periodic state-recommended inflationary fare increases.”

So let’s look at what the hike might be based on fare increases set in 2013. At the time, cash fare on the transit division was hiked from $2 to $2.25, and SEPTA had at the time planned for its “new payment technology” to launch in mid-2014. Those fares were expected to increase to $2.50, but the technology never launched. In addition, fare increases on other lines in 2013 were as such:

  • Weekly TransPass went from $22 to $24
  • Monthly TransPass went from $83 to $91
  • Norristown High-Speed Line cash fare went from $2-$2.50 to $2.75
  • Regional Rail weekday trips increased by a quarter per trip, save for Zone 1 trips which were hiked 75 cents
  • Weekly TrailPass prices increased between $2 and $3, depending on zone
  • Monthly TrailPass prices increased between $6 and $10, depending on zone

Those increases already happened. SEPTA hasn’t officially announced what the fare increases will be beginning in mid-2017. The transit authority usually sets its final budget in the spring.

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