SEPTA Pope Passes: Back to Square One — Now With a Lottery

SEPTA will restart sales of papal visit passes on August 3rd — with a twist: the passes will be distributed by lottery.

SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015

SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015

SEPTA announced at a 3 p.m. news conference today that it will push the reset button on sales of those special one-day Regional Rail passes for the visit of Pope Francis September 26th and 27th.

Sales of the special one-day Regional Rail passes for the papal visit will resume on Monday, August 3rd.

But this time, you’ll have to be lucky — not fast — to get one, for sales will be conducted by lottery using a system developed by Philadelphia-based Ticketleap.

Would-be passengers may submit their requests on a site linked from SEPTA’s home page starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday and will have until 11:59 p.m. that night to enter the lottery. Entries should include:

  • the date or dates you wish to travel: Saturday, September 26th, Sunday, September 27th, or both. (You may request up to 10 passes per day.)
  • the stations you would like to depart from; you may choose up to three.
  • the time slot when you wish to travel in the morning: 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. to noon.
  • Each pass will still cost $10. Riders with valid Pennsylvania Disabled Transit ID cards or Medicare cards may request one reduced-fare $5 pass per day.

Once the entry window closes, Ticketleap will produce a master database of entries and analyze the entries to weed out duplicate, fraudulent or suspicious submissions. Riders who submit duplicate requests may have their entries voided.

Once the invalid entries are removed, winners will be selected at random from all valid entries by Ticketleap. Winners will receive a personalized email on Thursday, September 6th, with a link to a site where they may complete their purchase with a debit or credit card.

SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams explained that the new system is designed to handle the high volume of requests and give everyone an equal shot at obtaining tickets. She added that because so few passes were sold before the original ordering system crashed last Monday, the lottery will in effect distribute all of the 175,000 passes available each day.

As of now, no plans for distributing the three-day surface transit papal visit passes have been announced. SEPTA, the World Meeting of Families organizers and representatives of the Mayor’s Office are ironing out more details about transportation options during the papal visit and will release more information when it is finalized.

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