15 March 2013

Welcome, surprise readers; and proposed SEPTA fare hikes

After a link from Atrios yesterday, I got over 3,500 views of my post unfavorably analyzing an NYTimes opinion piece on downsizing. (TL; DR: The author has a privilege blind spot preventing him from seeing that he's able to "outsource" his living space because of his wealth.) For the record, that's roughly 3,500 page views more than normal. But what fun! Before yesterday, I had never had a post so popular that I could play Blog Comment Bingo. I got quite a few of them: the reasonable interlocutor; the childfree zealot; the mansplainer; and the one-upmanshipper. The only thing missing was a spammer.

Moving along, and moving to something local to my region, our beloved public transit agency SEPTA has announced a proposed schedule of fare hikes effective in July. Monthly TransPasses, which I get for myself and the household's teenager, will go up by $9.00, or about a day's worth of food. (Cue one-upmanshippers commenting that they feed themselves more cheaply. In response, $9.00 is a ballpark amount. We can and do eat more cheaply, but $9 includes "luxury" items like out-of-season produce, local cheeses, and non-nutritive beverages like coffee and tea. The teenager is a fiend for herbal teas. Cue the childfree zealots telling me they'd never put up with that.) More subtly, the TransPasses will no longer be valid for in-city trips on regional rail, in two ways. One, the North Philadelphia and North Broad stations are shifting to Zone 1; and two, the passes will simply not be good any more for trips to Eastwick and the airport.

These changes are more significant than they seem. Eastwick is an important destination for city residents with blue-collar jobs, and for airport-area residents with Center City jobs. Come July, TransPass users will have to switch to the 36 trolley (or a long, 2-stage trip using the El to 69th Street and then a bus), since the shorter, direct trip via the Airport Line will cost more. And it used to be one of SEPTA's best-kept open secrets that a TransPass gets you to the airport for free. The airport is a destination for workers, too, of course; but this change is irritating for bourgeois professionals like myself who go on trips for business or pleasure a few times per year, or want to meet an incoming visitor and help them save a few clams by taking the train rather than a taxi into town.

My point, and I do have one, is for houseguests after July: You're on your own, kids!

The Zone 1 shift for the North Philadelphia and North Broad stations will work similarly. Residents and workers who need to use those stations will either switch to slower City Division ground transportation, or they'll have to buy Zone 1 passes. And the math you've been waiting for. Currently, a TransPass is $83.00/mo. The proposed TransPass will be $91.00/mo. But people who need to use North Philadelphia, North Broad, Eastwick, or the Airport will have to get a Zone 1 TrailPass, which is now $91.00/mo. but will be $101.00/mo. While I'm whining about a price increase of $9.00/mo., there are others in the city who will have to find $18.00 more in their monthly budgets. And, as a social worker friend of mine put it, these changes will disproportionately affect people who can least afford the changes.

And did you catch the other change in the proposal? Seniors and the disabled will have to use a state-issued photo ID to get a discounted or free ride. Currently, seniors can get a free ride by showing a Medicare card. The proposal is to require seniors to show a state-issued photo ID for their free rides, and for the disabled to acquire a "Photo ID Smart Media," presumably issued by SEPTA, for their discounted rides. I won't go into the politics here, except to note dispassionately and factually that photo ID for voting was a huge problem here in Pennsylvania last fall. Some seniors had a devil of a time getting their photo IDs when an issuing agency employee would deem that their supporting documentation was insufficient. So cynically I'm waiting for the first news reports of a 90-year-old, 88-pound great-grandmother denied her free bus ride because she has her Medicare card but hasn't gotten a state-issued photo ID.

In closing, welcome new readers via Eschatonblog. Please poke around my back catalogue of posts and enjoy yourself. And if you find yourself in Philadelphia sometime, I'll be happy to meet you at the airport and show you how to take regional rail into Center City, unless you're visiting after the first of July.

1 comment:

vernonlee said...


Found you yesterday via Atrios and poked around your archives. Love your blog! Thanks for all the good material.