As SEPTA explores options for its redesigned payment system, Temple’s discounted pass for commuters could soon change.
Temple has long had a discounted pass available for students commuting via SEPTA. Since SEPTA announced a new payment system across all its regional rails, subways, busses and trolleys to be implemented by 2014, new deals are expected to be individually made by many citywide institutions with SEPTA.
New payment technologies were announced by SEPTA in 2011 focusing on installing contact-free ways to pay for transit fare and phasing out tokens, transfers, passes and regional rail tickets. The exact capabilities of these replacing technologies haven’t been specified yet.
Since a new deal for Temple is in its early stages, there are still a multitude of options the university and SEPTA can explore.
“We really have to wait and see,” David Glezerman, assistant vice president of the Office of the Bursar, said. “We see an opportunity to improve the program.”
Glezerman spoke of a desire to make the Owl Cards work as a fare payment system on SEPTA, potentially using Diamond Dollars. He warned that this is very tentative since Temple has not spoken with SEPTA officials about it yet.[blockquote who=”David Glezerman” what=”assistant vice president of office of bursar”]We really have to wait and see. We see an opportunity to improve the program.[/blockquote]
There is still time for much to change as the release date of these technologies is set for September in all subway, trolleys and buses, and June 2014 for regional rail lines.
“We want to meet with SEPTA soon,” Glezerman said.
The open possibilities leaves room for those who were left out of transportation discounts the last time Temple made a deal with SEPTA. Continuing studies students and those not seeking a degree but taking classes at Temple don’t receive many of the privileges traditional students do.
“Unfortunately, they’re often the afterthought,” Myriah Lipke, an academic advisor for continuing studies, said.
There has never been a discount for these students’ traveling expenses despite Lipke’s rough estimate of a quarter of students who she sees that use public transit. At this early point of the process, a lot is still viable to consider including a public transit discount in some form for these students.
“I could definitely imagine it being a strong incentive,” Lipke said. “I hope Temple can make something like this work.”
Ultimately, the final call lies with SEPTA. Currently, full-time Temple students can apply for a pass that offers a 10 percent discount to the regular fare. This rate comes from a 5 percent SEPTA discount plus an additional 5 percent Temple payment to SEPTA.
Some students expressed concern with additional faults in the university pass besides a narrowed available audience. Taylor Parris, a sophomore computer science major, regularly commutes roughly 30 to 40 minutes to Main Campus.
“If you lose the monthly [university pass] then there’s no proof you own one,” Parris said. “Some get them by the week to avoid this and just take the extra cost.”
Parris also said the lines waiting for tokens at subway stops on campus are very long in the prime commuting hours. The current system gives a discount and offers a bypass to the lines, but are restricted to a certain audience.
“If there’s something quicker and more efficient, I’ll take it,” Parris said.
Glezerman believes the first meeting with SEPTA officials will happen within the next six weeks. From there he hopes to nail down the specifics with various university departments and welcomes student input via Temple Student Government.
“We’ll be looking at all options,” Glezerman said. “We want what is most student friendly as possible.”
Marcus McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.