SEPTA Should Switch to Proof-Of-Payment Fare System for Regional Rail

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Excellent post from Sandy Smith. Read the whole thing:

The people in charge of the fare system project–I’m not sure they’re techies themselves–have decided to add fare control to a key part of the Regional Rail system in order to make it fit NPT: Riders will “tap in” and “tap out” of the system using contactless readers installed at the five central stations–University City, 30th Street, Suburban Station, Market East, and Temple University.

The advantage of this system is that it takes fare collection out of the hands of on-board personnel. But it’s still somewhat ill-suited to the Regional Rail system, where most stations cannot be reconfigured so that no one can enter the platform without paying a fare. Since that’s the case, why not adopt a practice and a technology that encourages self-enforcement?

I have in mind what’s known as proof-of-payment fare collection, or “the honor system” as it’s sometimes called in error, which is pretty much how Regional Rail operates now: fares are paid at a station ticket window before boarding, if you’re lucky and the ticket window is open when you arrive. You are then issued a proof of payment–the ticket. Don’t have one? On-board personnel, who check all passengers for proof of payment, can sell you one for an additional charge over the fare.

With modern proof-of-payment systems, on-board personnel don’t check each and every passenger for fares; instead, they serve as roving inspectors conducting random checks of passengers. If they find a passenger without proof of payment, that rider’s $2.50 trip turns into a $250 one once the inspector writes a ticket for the violation. This system is used widely across the world.

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3 Responses to SEPTA Should Switch to Proof-Of-Payment Fare System for Regional Rail

  1. John Maieron says:

    This system si widely used on local suburban services in Switzerland. Having lived there, I assure you it works quite well. Automated ticket machines are installed at each station, so it doesn’t matter if the ticket office is open, or not. People who are caught without a valid ticket or pass have to pay the fare plus a supplement of at least Sfr. 8O- to the inspector. The passenger who refuses to pay is removed by the Police at the next station and the matter dealt with following arrest. The system works extremely well as there is very little fare evasion. SEPTA should do something right and adopt this system.

  2. Random Person says:

    honestly, why do people think POP can work this easily with SEPTA?
    First of all POP costs a lot of money if Ticket Vending Machines are added to EVERY STATION
    It’ll cost MUCH more than SEPTA’s current NPT plan

    • Jon says:

      It’s true the vending machines would cost some money to buy and maintain, but how much more money does it cost over the long term to keep employing human workers to check everybody’s tickets?