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The increased discount for public transportation fares given to faculty and staff who commute will go into effect Sept. 1. Credit: Roger Ge

On June 23, Penn Transportation and Parking announced an increase in the discount given to faculty and staff who commute to work using public transportation. 

The current commuter benefit gives a 5% discount to faculty and staff who use commuter fares and passes. The new benefit will increase that substantially, offering a 50% discount on Philadelphia regional passes, including Monthly City TransPasses and Monthly Regional TrailPasses from SEPTA, as well as PATCO, New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak. The discount will become effective Sept. 1, according to the announcement

“Offering faculty and staff convenient, affordable commuting options in ways that encourage sustainable transit is core to the mission of the Commuter Benefits Program," Penn Business Services Senior Director Joseph Russo wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

He noted that the advent of new technologies and the shift to hybrid work schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic have “provided an opportunity to evaluate the program with an eye toward increasing its value to commuters.”

The discount increase is part of Penn’s Sustainable Transportation Initiative, which was launched in 2010 as part of the University's Climate and Sustainability Action Plan. The main focus of this initiative is to “develop and expand sustainable commuting options.” 

“We felt it was an opportune time to revisit the commuter benefit with an eye toward making the utilization of public transportation more affordable and the choice for sustainable transportation options more attractive,” Marie Witt, vice president of Penn Business Services, wrote in the announcement.

The arrival of the increased discount also coincides with a system migration to a new management platform, aimed to enhance the user experience and its support services. Other action items related to this initiative include introducing the PennTransit mobile app in 2022 and adding electric vehicles to Penn’s transit fleet, Russo wrote. 

Russo also noted that initial feedback to the new discount is positive, and that “commuters are supportive of program enhancements which provide a more economical solution for their commute to campus.

Though the new discount will officially take effect on Sept. 1, commuters are able to begin registering for the new program on August 1.