Using SEPTA’s Senior Key Card

Interstate Senior Fares?

Seniors et al. can obtain a Senior Key Card valid for free riding in SEPTA within Pennsylvania. This leads to the question of just what seniors have to pay on SEPTA trains that cross the state line, to Trenton, West Trenton, and Delaware.

(Side issue: once I met a Pennsylvania resident who informed me in no uncertain terms that the reason seniors have to pay to get to Trenton was that “Chris Christie refused to pay his fair share of SEPTA expenses.” I choose not to debate the point, particularly since the gent looked like he may have been packing heat.)

Anyway, there has been a lot of uncertainty about just what the rules are for seniors crossing the state line.

Enter our intrepid field researcher (not me!) who undertook an excursion the other day to SEPTA HQ to renew his senior Key Card.

He bought a ticket from NJT from NYP to Philadelphia. (Side issue: Apparently you can sometimes get senior fares on SEPTA by buying a ticket, without the rigmarole of securing the special Key Card.)

There was some time between trains at Trenton, so our boy inquired of the ticket agent what a senior ticket to the first stop in Pennsylvania, Levittown, would cost. Told $1.75, he duly acquired same, although he planned to complete his ride using the ticket he bought from NJT. (N.B.: Another case of being able to use senior fares without a senior Key Card.)

Relevant facts: A rider boarding at Levittown with a senior card gets a free ride. Someone traveling from Trenton however is liable to a surcharge reported to be $4.50, which is what they quoted me in Center City when I asked—but I stuck with the River Line, thank you.)

Plot thickens: Return trip.

Our guy boards a Trenton train at Center City. Conductor asks where he is going. (I’ve traveled to the last stop in PA on both SEPTA lines, but nobody ever asked me that question.) Our man says Trenton and produces the Levittown-Trenton $1.75 ticket previously acquired.

Conductor’s reaction is one for the record book:

“You can’t use two discount tickets on the same train. We got a memo on that.”

Our man: “What if I get off at Levittown?” Answer: “You can’t get back on the same train.”

At this point the conductor took the $1.75 ticket, punched it, and our man rode blissfully to Trenton.

At Trenton, our man still had to walk past his conductor on the platform, and admits to at least a slight fear that some SEPTA cop might swoop down and drag him off to SEPTA-jail. But they only exchanged knowing nods, which our man interpreted to mean, “Don’t pull that on my train again.” 

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