Senior transit fares and cards

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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
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Denver
Hi, Thank you for the information, I will try the 65+ As it will be a good discount on $1200 fare. Keep you all posted as to the outcome. The veterans was a bit cheeky of me as i have not really contributed to the USA.
Veterans' and active duty deals are usually quirky, even in one's own country. And due to the rule that discounts can't be compounded, once I turned 65 that was a better deal than hunting for veterans' discounts.

Some American states have rude restrictions on senior fares on transit systems. These are adopted for political reasons, sometimes just to subvert the Federal mandate requiring senior fares by adding complications.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
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Location
Washington State
Veterans' and active duty deals are usually quirky, even in one's own country. And due to the rule that discounts can't be compounded, once I turned 65 that was a better deal than hunting for veterans' discounts.

Some American states have rude restrictions on senior fares on transit systems. These are adopted for political reasons, sometimes just to subvert the Federal mandate requiring senior fares by adding complications.
I got senior transit cards on New York MTA and Los Angeles Metro as well as the senior ORCA card where I actually live in Washington.

The only place I've run into where I couldn't get the senior discount was Philadelphia. They only do it if you have Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware ID.
 
Joined
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The only place I've run into where I couldn't get the senior discount was Philadelphia. They only do it if you have Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware ID.
That must be something new. I have a SEPTA senior Key Card and I got it on the basis of my Maryland Driver's license. True, I had to go to SEPTA HQ at 13th and Market and sit around and wait my turn to get my picture taken, but there was no restriction due to my residence. And it is one of the great transit deals around.

Even before I got the card, the attendants in the subway station would pass you through free if you showed them your Medicare card.
 
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That must be something new. I have a SEPTA senior Key Card and I got it on the basis of my Maryland Driver's license. True, I had to go to SEPTA HQ at 13th and Market and sit around and wait my turn to get my picture taken, but there was no restriction due to my residence. And it is one of the great transit deals around.

Even before I got the card, the attendants in the subway station would pass you through free if you showed them your Medicare card.
Here's what SEPTA says:

SEPTA | Senior Citizens

"Seniors living outside Pennsylvania must obtain a Senior Fare Card upon arrival to be eligible for free or reduced fare travel."

If you arrive by Amtrak at 30th St., you get a free ride on Regional Rail to Jefferson Station, which is pretty close to SEPTA HQ at 1234 Market St. Apparently, you now need an appointment to obtain a new card or renew your old one. However, they have no restrictions on your state of residence.

It is true that if you're traveling to or from Delaware (Wilmington or Newark) or New Jersey (Trenton), your ride isn't free, but rather it's half the normal weekday fare.
 

zephyr17

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That must be something new. I have a SEPTA senior Key Card and I got it on the basis of my Maryland Driver's license. True, I had to go to SEPTA HQ at 13th and Market and sit around and wait my turn to get my picture taken, but there was no restriction due to my residence. And it is one of the great transit deals around.

Even before I got the card, the attendants in the subway station would pass you through free if you showed them your Medicare card.
This was November 2021 at the SEPTA customer counter at 30th St Station, one of the locations where the website said Senior cards could be obtained.

It could be that Maryland was included in the list. I do recall NJ and Delaware struck me because New York (where I was staying) seemed pointedly excluded. I do know my Washington drivers license most certainly did not cut it.

Maybe I should have tried to convince them it was from Washington, DC😉
 

joelkfla

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This was November 2021 at the SEPTA customer counter at 30th St Station, one of the locations where the website said Senior cards could be obtained.

It could be that Maryland was included in the list. I do recall NJ and Delaware struck me because New York (where I was staying) seemed pointedly excluded. I do know my Washington drivers license most certainly did not cut it.

Maybe I should have tried to convince them it was from Washington, DC😉
I was contemplating a trip to Philly & Pittsburgh, so I called SEPTA just last month, and the very nice lady on the phone said nothing about it being restricted to those states, just that I had to make an appt. and get it in person. As I understand it, the free senior fare is funded by the state of PA, not the local agency. I even was able to find a local system near Pittsburgh who sent me a PA Senior ID by mail in return for photocopies of my FL DL & my passport, which should be accepted in Pittsburgh, but maybe not in Philly.
If you arrive by Amtrak at 30th St., you get a free ride on Regional Rail to Jefferson Station
How does that work?
 

zephyr17

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Well, I am just going by what the person said at the SEPTA customer service center person said at 30th st station. Who refused to sell me a senior discount based on my Washington ID.

Based on the responses of this thread, it is clear that SEPTA subscribes to Amtrak's customer service philosophy of doing whatever is easiest/whatever they feel like doing.
 

Deni

Lead Service Attendant
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May 11, 2008
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Metra, CTA, and Pace Bus in Chicago are annoying because you have to have an "RTA-issued Reduced Fare Permit" to get the senior fare. I don't think there is a residency requirement (but I could be wrong) but it is essentially a de facto residency requirement since visitors to Chicago are not going to jump through the hoops to apply for that. You should just be able to show ID to get the senior fare.
 

Trollopian

Lead Service Attendant
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Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA
The only place I've run into where I couldn't get the senior discount was Philadelphia. They only do it if you have Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware ID.

Pittsburgh too. Yinz know, that big city at the other end of Pennsylvania.

From PortAuthority.org - Discounted Fares: "Senior Citizens age 65 or older who present a Pennsylvania Senior Citizen ID Card or a Senior ConnectCard at the time of fare payment ride free. Effective January 1, 2020, Medicare cards will not be accepted. The Senior Citizen ConnectCard allows seniors to ride Port Authority and other public transit vehicles for free across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." Medicare cards, which are on flimsy cardboard, were easy to fake. A valid Senior card is easy to get at multiple locations around the state, er, Commonwealth, though it might not be worth the time if you're just visiting for a couple of days.
 
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The only place I've run into where I couldn't get the senior discount was Philadelphia. They only do it if you have Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware ID.
As a tourist in the large cities served by Amtrak, I typically go for an unlimited 1-day pass on SEPTA. That way I can ride almost non stop until I have to get back to Springfield MA. As I'm typically only riding for a single day at a time, this works best for me.

Like SEPTA, one has to get a senior ID for METRA, I've found. And they are sticklers at the ticket window. A couple of times I've been joyriding in CHI, they had an all day pass for a very good price. If I recall, PDX MAX and light rail allow one to select 'senior fare' on the ticket machines. Works great.

I've been working on riding all the mass transit options on all routes (except buses) on the east coast during my retirement. So, with a few exceptions, all my transit joyride trips are limited to single day only and that within the time window between my arrival and departure on Amtrak.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Denver RTD operators and fare inspectors can ask for i.d. but rarely do.

Las Vegas requires a "resident" i.d., but didn't blink when I applied with a Denver address to see what would happen. They even mailed a notice to me in Denver when they changed card formats.
 

west point

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Denver RTD operators and fare inspectors can ask for i.d. but rarely do.

Las Vegas requires a "resident" i.d., but didn't blink when I applied with a Denver address to see what would happen. They even mailed a notice to me in Denver when they changed card formats.

Non residence applications may pass depending on who enters the data. Especially contract workers who might not be anywhere close to the agency.
 
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NJT and Metro-North/LIRR let anyone buy senior fare tickets on the app. I guess the conductor has the right to ask for ID when you show the ticket. They've never asked me, but my hair is nice and grey. :)

I have a NYC senior MetroCard for the subway and buses. I had to provide a passport photo and send a notarized copy of my Maryland driver's license, as I ordered it by mail. I'm not sure if I've yet saved the cost of the photo, notary, and UPS shipping of the application.

Before the pandemic, I used to be able to buy a senior light rail ticket in Baltimore from the ticket machine. Again, the tickets are checked onboard, and I suppose the inspector can ask for more ID, if needed. On the Baltimore Metro, they don't have senior tickets in the vending machines, but the attendant will give you one on payment of the fare. MARC requires you to register for senior fares, which requires an online application that includes your driver's license or state ID number. Not clear whether they accept out of state ID. I can now buy all the senior MARC tickets I want on the app. When I was working, I got a senior monthly pass when I turned 65, but I forget what I had to do to get it. The real hassle was changing my transit subsidy, which involved coordinating WMATA (my Senior SmartTrip card), MARC, the local Agency that handled the transit subsidy (Commer Direct? or Commuter choice?), and the Federal Agency I worked for. Getting the Senior SmartTrip card involved a trip to the sales office at the Metro Center station (which fortunately was only a block from my office), and showing them my driver's license. My Maryland license was, of course, no problems, so I don't know what their policy is on Senior cards for people living outside of MD, DC, or VA.

I haven't bothered to get a senior card for Boston or Chicago. The Boston one would involve another trip to the Charlie Card store at the Downtown Crossing Station. The Chicago one looked like it had so much red tape that it wasn't worth the bother for a place that I might only visit once every 2 years or so.

I started using Amtrak senior fares when I turned 62. Then they jacked up the minimum age when I was 63 or 64, so I had to go back to regular fares until I turned 65.
 

joelkfla

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I haven't bothered to get a senior card for Boston or Chicago. The Boston one would involve another trip to the Charlie Card store at the Downtown Crossing Station. The Chicago one looked like it had so much red tape that it wasn't worth the bother for a place that I might only visit once every 2 years or so.
In 2019, Chicago was just a matter of downloading an application PDF and mailing it in with an appropriately sized selfie and a photocopy of my DL.

But now, in case you go back to Chicago:

RTA Launches Fare Programs Online Portal
On January 18, 2022, the RTA launched Fare Programs Online, a web-based online customer portal that allows people with disabilities and seniors to apply for, replace, and renew Reduced Fare and Ride Free Permits. The portal can be accessed at Fares.RTAChicago.org. This marks the first time these services are available online. Read more in a press release or on the RTA blog.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Denver
Non residence applications may pass depending on who enters the data. Especially contract workers who might not be anywhere close to the agency.
I walked over to the transit center downtown from Fremont Street and registered for the pass with clerks who appeared to be with the transit district. And when Las Vegas changed pass formats they mailed a notice to my address in Denver.

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MBTA in Boston has a Senior Charlie card that gives you half fares. It used to be that you had to go to the office at Downtown Crossing to get one but you can now get them online. I would consider getting one but I only use the T a couple times a year when I take the Downeaster to visit family so not sure if I'll go to the trouble.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
Apparently, even Miami now offers online applications. A few years ago, I made a day trip to Miami to ride Brightline, Metro, and MetroMover, and spent about an hour waiting for my application to be processed, sitting in a dingy government office reminiscent of Beetlejuice.
 
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Los Angeles
The walk from King St. Station to the International District Light Rail is quicker if you can leave the station via the second floor exit onto the plaza. For a while, that exit was closed, so I would inquire of someone at the station.

Also, I happened to walk by that route last week and a small homeless encampment of two tents between King St Station and the I-District light rail station had been removed. The mayor has been making a priority to get homeless tent-dwellers into shelter, which has definitely reduced the street homeless population recently.

Note that if you are a senior, the fare for light rail to the airport is one dollar--a bargain!

Can you explain the process for getting that senior fare for someone from out of town..
Thanks for any info.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
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Can you explain the process for getting that senior fare for someone from out of town..
Thanks for any info.
This is how the process worked a couple of years ago; I assume it still works that way, or at least I hope it does.

Click on this link for a senior reduced fare card: Instructions - REDUCED FARE PORTAL

It should link to an application, which you can upload together with a PDF or JPEG of a government-issued ID with photo like a drivers license or passport.

Wait and you get your senior ORCA card in the mail.

Caveats: This was all in the Before Times, so things may have changed. Also, ORCA is in the process of transitioning to new-improved ORCA cards, so things may take longer due to current cardholders applying for the new cards. My old one will continue to work till it runs out of banked funds, so I'm not bothering about replacing it at this point.

And, be aware that fare enforcement has shut down completely. Riders are supposed to tap their cards at the stop where they get on, but Sound Transit has discontinued the use of fare-police onboard, so at the moment and for the foreseeable future, public transit payment in Seattle is completely on the honor system. Now, I'm not in any way suggesting that people evade the fares. Though, if you were so inclined, there would be no way anyone would catch you, at least till the middle of next year, when they expect to have a fairer, kinder fare enforcement system in place.
 
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