The Pope in Philly

Holy free market: SEPTA’s Pope passes are already for sale on Craigslist

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Would you rather spend $50 for a SEPTA ride to the see the pope or about the same to see the Zac Brown Band at Citizens Bank Park? It’s now a decision you can make.

Round two of sales for SEPTA’s $10 papal rail passes came and went with little complication. The website didn’t crash, and most everyone got the pass they were searching for. But this hasn’t stopped a secondary market from springing up for them on Craigslist.

As of Friday morning, more than a dozen listings were already advertising papal rail passes, asking for between $25 and $50 per pass, asking people to pay more to ride SEPTA than they would for a Phillies game (tickets start at $11 to see them play the Padres on Labor Day).

Some vendors are offering as few as two passes, others as much as 20. The maximum amount somebody could purchase from SEPTA was 10.

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Tim Raybould, CEO of TicketLeap, the company that helped SEPTA plan and execute round of the papal pass sale, told Billy Penn that while everyone who entered the lottery could buy a pass not all of them were able to buy a pass for the specific station they desired. Each station was limited to a 10,000-pass capacity. He said the Norristown line was one of a few stations that got more than 10,000 requests for passes, meaning some people who wanted to ride the Norristown line won’t get the opportunity. Only four of the vendors on Craigslist were selling Norristown passes.

Given most people’s satisfaction with the sale, it would seem the demand for papal passes probably won’t be too high, at least for now. That said, vendors have priced them about the same as they have many of the biggest concert and sporting events in Philadelphia over the next month.

  • Zac Brown Band, Aug. 15: $58
  • Chris Brown, Aug. 21: $38
  • Eagles vs. Ravens preseason, Aug. 22: $28
  • Penn State vs. Temple, Sept. 5: $75
  • Lady Antebellum, Sept. 19: $47

And, sorry 5 Seconds of Summer, but a 20-minute train ride is going for twice as much as lawn seats at your concert.

Would Pope Francis approve of this side market? Maybe so.

The pope has become known for his Franciscanomics, criticizing the rich and powerful for hogging too much of the resources and advocating for economic freedom for all. While not a fan of the unrestrained free market, he would like to see conglomerates shrink and smaller producers thrive. The power has shifted from SEPTA to the individual. Anybody who paid $10 for a pass now has the opportunity to profit — if they can convince someone Regional Rail is more valuable than a Phillies game.

Want some more? Explore other The Pope in Philly stories.

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