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Zero Fare

Providing free transit access to 25,000 or more Philadelphians living near or below the poverty level as part of a two-year pilot program.


Paying for transportation is a financial burden for many Philadelphians. Travel costs create barriers to accessing employment opportunities, health care, social services, and more.

Zero Fare will support free SEPTA transit for residents living near or below the poverty level. The goals of this program are to:

  • Increase economic mobility.
  • Improve quality of life.
  • Help all residents and their neighborhoods thrive and grow.

Similar programs in peer cities have shown a range of benefits, including better access to social services and medical support. The City of Philadelphia is administering this program in partnership with SEPTA and several community-based organizations.



Process and eligibility

Residents can't apply independently for Zero Fare. Instead, participants will be randomly selected to participate or enrolled through select community-based organizations. Eligibility is based on:

  • Income.
  • Age.

All participants will receive a card that covers all SEPTA rides for one year. At the end of the first year, participants will be contacted regarding options for the second year of the program.

Random selection

About 90% of participants will be randomly chosen and automatically enrolled. These participants will receive a pre-activated Zero Fare Key card in the mail.

Enrollment through community organizations

The remaining 10% of participants will be enrolled through designated community-based organizations. These participants will receive their Zero Fare Key card from the organization they visited.

Program scope

Zero Fare will serve 25,000 or more residents. However, since it's a pilot program with limited funding, it can't serve everyone who might be eligible. We plan to evaluate the program and hope to apply our findings to determine options for expanding the program beyond the two years.

Some groups currently have access to transit subsidies like student fare cards or senior fare cards. By providing a subsidy program for adults experiencing poverty, this program aims to narrow the gap and support increased mobility for a greater proportion of Philadelphians.