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A SEPTA train passing by a commuter on April 18, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn introduced an increased commuter discount of 50% on monthly passes for SEPTA, the PATCO FREEDOM card, NJ TRANSIT, and Amtrak this fall.

The benefit has a limit of $105 per month and is offered on a pre-tax basis through Jawnt, a new service provider. The discount benefits extend to Penn’s full-time, benefits-eligible faculty and staff, along with postdoctoral researchers and fellows. Around 4,000 community members are currently participating in the program. 

“Offering convenient, affordable commuting options in ways that encourage sustainable transit is core to the mission of the Commuter Benefits Program,” Joe Russo, senior director of Business Services, said to Penn Today. 

Penn's commuter discount adds to existing programs like the Commuter Card, which is accessible on the Health Equity platform at a pre-tax 5% discount. Commuters can use both discounts as long as they don’t exceed the $105 limit.

“The change in commuting that has occurred post-pandemic, in particular the shift toward hybrid work schedules, as well as new technologies that were introduced shortly before the pandemic (such as SEPTA’s Key Card) have provided an opportunity to evaluate the program with an eye toward increasing its value to commuters,” Russo told Penn Today.

The plan follows several steps taken by the University to increase its sustainable presence over the past few years. In 2022, Penn Transit Services launched its first fleet of electric passenger vans. Moreover, the Penn Bike Commuter Expense Reimbursement Program provides funds for bike-related expenses including purchases, maintenance, upgrades, accessories, and safety equipment, according to Penn Today. 

“I am really happy with the new Jawnt site and increased commuter benefit,” Gina Campellone, a specialist at the Penn Employee Solution Center, said to Penn Today. “When my PATCO trains goes past all those cars sitting on the Ben Franklin Bridge, I appreciate the commuter benefit even more. Jawnt was easy to set up the first time and this month when I updated my election, it was just as easy.”

The plan was announced on June 23 by Penn Transportation and Parking, and community members were able to register starting Aug. 1. The new discount went into effect on Sept. 1.