PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — SEPTA is developing a pilot program that would install high-tech, full-height vertical gates to deter fare jumpers.
The transit agency would add 16 full-length fare gates at 13th Street Station along the Market-Frankford Line and six at 34th Street Station. Turnstiles would be replaced with full-height barriers that glide open.
“The most common behavior with fare evasion is jumping over the turnstile. You simply couldn’t do that with the way that these gates are configured,” said SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch. “We want to test this technology out and see if it helps us with fare evasion.”
The gates, from Conduent Transport Solutions, include a 3D imaging system that can sound an alarm if someone tries to piggyback their way past the gate without paying. The sensors can also recognize wheelchairs, strollers and luggage.
The SEPTA board is set to approve a $925,000 contract for the 3D gates on Thursday, with delivery expected late this year.
Nearly 2,800 fare evasion cases were reported on SEPTA last year — an increase of more than 800 from 2021. Busch said the new gates would more accurately track the number of fare evaders on the system.
“Right now, we have the numbers to go on from police in terms of how many citations they’re issuing," Busch added. "We know that doesn’t fully capture the picture with fare evasion.”
The fare gates do not capture video or images, but Busch said SEPTA has existing surveillance cameras with live feeds near the fare line areas. The authority pieces together evidence from the feeds and cashier notes and compares farebox totals to automatic passenger counts to estimate how much fare jumpers cost them.
SEPTA estimates that it loses $23 million a year due to fare evasion, which would come out to about 10.9% of projected revenue.
It's about a $10 million loss on buses, trolleys and the Norristown High-Speed Line, and $13 million on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines during the last fiscal year, Busch added.