Because of SEPTA’s insufficient operating hours, high fares and general inadequacies, many students find themselves high and dry without transportation, since SEPTA is the main mode of transportation that Temple students rely on.
For students who do not have cars, SEPTA is their only source of transportation. SEPTA’s Broad Street Orange Line offers subway service from approximately 5 a.m. until half past midnight. This is a problem because clubs, events, concerts usually don’t end until well after that time. After getting out of their favorite clubs on Friday or Saturday nights, students are forced to find an alternative to get back to campus.
SEPTA does offer bus service after the subway stops running, but no one wants to wait 15 minutes in the middle of Philadelphia after midnight. Inclement weather, security and personal safety are all reasons that deter people from using these buses.
But with such a huge population, why is Philadelphia’s subway system so far behind those in other East Coast cities?
The transportation system in Boston runs until 1 a.m. seven days a week. Subway trains run 24 hours a day in New York City. Washington, D.C., has an even better system which runs the same times as Philadelphia on weekdays, and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Another problem that plagues students is the high price of SEPTA tokens. SEPTA sells tokens for $1.60 and transfers cost an additional 40 cents. This is extremely high in comparison to other cities.
Boston, a smaller city, charges $1.00 for subway fare and only 75 cents for bus fare.
Washington’s subway fares are 50 cents cheaper. Even a much larger city like New York City is cheaper. New York fares cost $1.50 with free transfers, and after paying for 10 fares, the 11th is free.
Students are often searching for these high-priced tokens because SEPTA doesn’t make them readily available everywhere. While tokens are available at the campus bookstore, they aren’t sold at most subway stops. The Susquehanna-Dauphin station, the closest station to most residence halls, does not sell tokens. The employees at these stations do not carry change and there is absolutely no way to board a subway if you do not have exact change.
Students with a $5 bills or greater often find themselves out of luck when they need to purchase tokens. They have the option of either over-paying for a fare, or paying for a bunch of tokens that are not needed at the time.
SEPTA claims that approximately 116 locations sell tokens in North Philadelphia. But only nine of these 116 locations are open after midnight.
An alternative to the use of tokens, is the metro-card or metro-pass. These types of cards are in use in Washington and New York. For example, you put as much money as you want on a metro-card and you deduct each fare from your card’s balance. This system works on the same premise as the Diamond Dollars declining-balance accounts. A metro-pass system would eliminate the use of tokens altogether and would be much easier to regulate.
For Philadelphia’s size and population, SEPTA clearly needs to make some vast improvements. Philadelphia proves to be behind the times in comparison to the transportation systems of other cities, and will remain so until SEPTA improves.