Here’s How to Ride SEPTA for Free [Updated]

After all, fares are about to go up 12.5 percent.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, SEPTA fares are about to go up, with cash fares on buses and trolleys increasing from $2 to $2.25. And since you probably didn’t get a 12.5 percent raise this year, I thought you should know that it’s possible (and downright easy) to ride SEPTA for free.

Thanks to construction on the dreadful Route 10 trolley line, which runs from 13th Street to the Overbrook section of the city, SEPTA is substituting shuttle buses for the trolleys from the 63rd and Malvern terminal to the 33rd Street underground trolley station (pictured below), near 33rd and Market streets.

Route 10 riders pay their fares when they board the bus, and then they transfer (for free) to any of the several trolley lines that go from the 33rd Street station into the city. But no transfer slips are actually required to board the trolley at 33rd Street — i.e., you don’t need to show any proof that you paid a fare on the Route 10 shuttle bus. And it’s not like your trolley driver is going to ask.

So, if a person wanted to, say, just go to the 33rd Street SEPTA station and get on one of the operational trolley lines (a trolley shows up every few minutes during rush hour) without paying a fare, there’s nothing stopping that person from doing that, other than, perhaps, a sense of integrity. The ride from 33rd Street to 13th and Market takes under ten minutes, and there are also stops at 30th, 22nd, 19th and 15th.

And, to take it one step further, since there are free interchanges from the trolleys to the Market-Frankford El at 30th Street, 15th Street and 13th Street and from the trolleys to the Broad Street Line at 15th Street, well, it’s possible to ride SEPTA for free all the way to Pattison Avenue in South Philadelphia, Olney in North Philadelphia or the Frankford Transportation Center in the Great Northeast, so long as you board at 33rd and Market (and don’t mind cheating the system).

Of course, all good things must come to an end. The Route 10 construction is scheduled to be completed by August 31st, meaning your free rides on SEPTA will stop then, too … at least until I find another loophole.

Updated [6/19/2013 12:45 p.m.]: SEPTA offered the following comment via a Twitter response:

Photo: Wikipedia