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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 jobs, health care, social services, and more.

Zero Fare supports 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 other 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.


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Process and eligibility

During its two-year pilot, residents can't apply independently for Zero Fare. Instead, eligible Philadelphia residents were randomly selected to participate through a lottery system or enrolled through select community-based organizations. Eligibility is based on the following factors:

  • Income
  • Age
  • Philadelphia residency

Random selection

About 90% of participants were randomly selected 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 were enrolled through designated community-based organizations that serve immigrant and refugee communities in Philadelphia. These participants received their Zero Fare Key card from the organization they visited.

Enrollment through community-based organizations is complete as of December 2023. As additional opportunities become available, Zero Fare program staff will share information and updates.

Program overview

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 its first 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 number of Philadelphians.