SEPTA Not Ready to Resume Sales of One Day Regional Rail Passes for the Pope's Visit

SEPTA announced Tuesday that they will not resume sales this week for the 1-day Regional Rail passes for the Papal visit.

According to SEPTA, they have been working with IT consultants over the past two days and are still considering the best option to address the high interest among customers interested in purchasing the pass, and the heavy volume on the e-commerce site. SEPTA says an analysis of the activity Monday shows that 54,000 customers visited the e-commerce site within the first minute after the site was launched.

Just about 10 minutes after the passes went on sale Monday, the site crashed with only 201 people being able to purchase the passes. By ten o’clock SEPTA says that they had to shut the site down to rectify the issues.

“We were overwhelmed. We were actually testing the system over the weekend. 1700 transactions per second, 900,000 visits to the site. We were testing it to make sure that it would operate perfectly, and unfortunately, that did not happen,” a SEPTA rep said.

SEPTA tweeted on its official Twitter account Monday: "RRD: The Papal E-Commerce site is temporarily closed while resolve problems. We apologize/will update when more info. is available."

No word yet on when the website will be back up and running.

Those who intend to travel on PATCO’s services and SEPTA’s Regional Rail lines during the Papal Visit in September will need to purchase one-day passes when they go on sale Monday morning, July 20, at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. respectively.

No other fares will be accepted on Regional Rail trains and PATCO trains on Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27.

However, SEPTA will double its capacity by modifying train operations. And PATCO trains will operate every 16 minutes.

Septa released a press release with the details of the services during the Papal Visit:

One-day passes for Regional Rail travel during the Papal Visit will go on sale next Monday, July 20 at 9 a.m., SEPTA announced. The passes will be sold online through a new ecommerce website that will launch when the pass sales begin. SEPTA is limiting the number of passes that will be sold, and requiring pre-purchase of the passes, to keep crowd numbers consistent with the capacity that will be available on Regional Rail trains.

During the Papal Visit on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, SEPTA will double capacity by modifying

Regional Rail operations, in an effort to accommodate travel demand. A total of just 18 outlying

Regional Rail stations will be in operation. All other stations will be closed during the weekend. This will allow SEPTA to run express-type inbound-only service in the morning to the events, and outbound-only service afterwards. The Airport Line, however, will operate modified inbound and outbound service throughout the weekend. More information about Airport Line service will be announced in the coming weeks.

All riders using Regional Rail on Sept. 26 and 27 - including regular SEPTA customers and visitors – will be required to pre-purchase a special one-day Papal Visit Pass. No other fare instruments, such as TrailPasses, will be accepted. Papal Visit Pass purchases are non-refundable.

SEPTA has made some minor adjustments to the Regional Rail Papal Visit operations plan first announced in June. The Levittown Station has been added on the Trenton Line, and the Pennbrook Station has replaced the Lansdale Station on the Lansdale/Doylestown Line. Event drop-off locations in Center City have also been added. SEPTA will operate to/from Jefferson, 30th Street and University City Stations during the two-day Papal Visit. Riders will then have to walk to the events. Afterwards, riders must board at the same Center City Station where they were dropped off for return service to their outlying station.

Below are the Regional Rail lines and outlying stations that will be in operation, listed by their Center City drop-off/boarding station:

Jefferson Station

· Norristown/Manayunk Line - Norristown Transportation Center

· Lansdale/Doylestown Line - Pennbrook and Fort Washington Stations

· Warminster Line - Warminster Station

· West Trenton Line - Woodbourne Station

· Fox Chase Line - Fox Chase Station

· Airport Line - Terminal A/B, Terminal C/D

30th Street Station

· Paoli/Thorndale Line - Paoli and Radnor Stations

· Chesnut Hill West Line - Chestnut Hill West Station

· Trenton Line - Levittown and Croydon/Cornwells Heights Stations

· Wilmington/Newark Line - Wilmington and Marcus Hook Stations

University City Station

· Airport Line - Eastwick Station

· Media/Elwyn Line - Media and Primos Stations

A limited number of One Day Regional Rail Passes will be available for sale for each station starting at 9 a.m. Monday, July 20. Each One Day Pass will cost $10, and will be valid for one passenger. Standard shipping fees apply.

Up to 10 passes can be purchased in one transaction through the e-commerce site. Those planning to travel on Saturday and Sunday will need to purchase passes for both days.

All passengers travelling on Regional Rail during these days will have to purchase a Papal Pass, including seniors and children over the age of 5. Customers with a valid PA Disability Transit ID Card or Medicare Card can purchase reduced fare passes through the e-commerce site for $5; they will then be required to show their valid ID along with the Papal Pass at the time of boarding. Reduced fare pass sales will be limited to a single purchase.

Service will operate from the outlying stations to Center City from 5:30 a.m. to noon both days. To help alleviate congestion and enhance safety, SEPTA will have two travel slots, the first from 5:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m., the second 8:30 a.m.-noon at each station except Cornwells Heights and Croydon. Cornwells Heights will be open during the early slot from 5:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m., and Croydon from 8:30 a.m.-noon.

When customers purchase the One Day Regional Rail Passes, they must select their outlying station and time slot. The name of the station will be printed on the back of the pass. It will be valid only for travel from the specified outlying station during the selected time slot, and for travel from Center City back to that station after the Papal Visit events. All riders using Regional Rail on Sept. 26 and 27 will be required to pre-purchase these passes. No other fares, passes or cash, will be accepted. Pass purchases are non-refundable.

A link to the e-commerce site for One Day Regional Rail Passes will be posted at www.septa.org when tickets go on sale Monday, July 20. The same site will be used for the sales of a special three-day Papal Visit transit pass, which will go on sale starting Monday, July 27. The special three-day Papal Visit transit pass will be valid for travel on all SEPTA subways, buses and trolleys from Saturday, Sept. 26 through Monday, Sept. 28. Customers can also use tokens, transfers and weekly and monthly passes on subways, buses and trolleys.

SEPTA is urging customers planning to use rail service for Papal Visit travel to arrange to be dropped off at or near their station. Parking will be limited at SEPTA stations and surrounding locations, and spots are expected to fill up quickly both days.

SEPTA will continued to provide Papal Visit travel information and updates as additional information is available. For more information about SEPTA, visit www.septa.org.

As for Patco, Special Freedom cards will go on sale Monday at PATCO's Broadway station and online. Passengers who do not have them will not be permitted on the trains on Sept. 26 and 27.

A one-day pass will cost $5 and a two-day pass is $10 for those 5 years of age and older. There is a limit of 10 cards per purchase.

Passengers may use their regular Freedom cards during the pope's visit and pay $2.50 for each ride.

Trains will operate every 16 minutes and passengers can only board from Lindenwold, Woodcrest, Ferry Avenue and Broadway stations to the 9th/10th and Locust station in Philadelphia.

The deadline for online purchases is Sept 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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