Add More Ways for Collection of PATCO Transfers

Nudging Up Customer Service: Externally-Dependent Project

Problem, Classification, and Idea

It’s a daily occurrence for customers at the 8th Street Market-Frankford line station. One minute the station is relatively calm, and the next it’s a mad dash of New Jerseyans trying to transfer from their PATCO train. A large part of this chaos can be attributed to the lack of “transfer locations” at the 8th Street station. Since PATCO customers must give their transfer to a cashier, even with two open booths, the station’s other — points of entry are effectively rendered “out of service.” In addition, this creates a bottleneck at each of the cashier booths. In order to effectively eliminate the bottleneck (increasing station access and customer satisfaction), a solution enabling each turnstile to accept transfers should be implemented.


Prior to the installation of New Payment Technologies, minimal solutions to this problem exist (as humans must visually inspect and verify that customers have a valid transfer). One method to reduce crowding at the 8th & Market entryway is to leave the station gate open and operate the station on a proof-of-purchase basis. This practice, however, is impractical as the entire transit system would need to be converted as such (which would be even more foolish than making one station “PoP”). More solutions present themselves once NPT becomes implemented. While complete integration of the two fare systems would be ideal for customers, such a solution would be difficult to implement and manage. Making use of the turnstiles’ magnetic stripe readers, PATCO could dispense a magnetic SEPTA tickets from their vending machines to customers with Freedom cards similar to the way this is done today. Customers purchasing single-ride or round-trip tickets could even use their paper ticket for entry at the SEPTA turnstiles, making the situation even more convenient for the transferring PATCO-SEPTA rider. Perhaps the most obvious choice, however, is to create some sort of “load station” system within the PATCO fare system. SEPTA Transfer Validator machines could be installed at PATCO stations, on which customers would be able to tag their SEPTA Fare Media to issue a discounted transfer to their card. This simple solution would require a bit more infrastructure; however, it does not deal with the headache of managing two separate systems as well as ensuring compatibility between an open and proprietary fare system.

Notes & Graphics

According to Leslie Hickman of the NPT Integration team, there is currently a handshake agreement between SEPTA and the DRPA regarding the future of PATCO- SEPTA transfers. Specifically, while PATCO customers will not be able to use their freedom cards as full-fledged SEPTAKey Smart Fare Media, they will be able to use them in exactly the same fashion as the pre-existing paper transfers (with the two agencies reconciling revenue in exactly the same way as today). As a result, the problem of overcrowding at select portions of the fareline will no longer be an issue upon the full launch of SEPTAKey; all turnstiles will be capable of accepting the transfers.