Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Regional Rail Passes For Philadelphia's Visit By Pope Francis On September 26th And 27th Suspended Due To Technical Problems

SEPTA is not yet ready to resume sales of Regional Rail passes for the weekend of Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia.

The transit agency said the sales will not resume this week.

Technical problems forced SEPTA to suspend online sales Monday, just hours after the passes went on sale.

In a statement issued Tuesday, SEPTA officials said "We have been working with IT consultants over the last two days, and are still considering the best option to address the high interest among customers interested in purchasing the pass, and the heavy volume on the e-commerce site."

SEPTA officials told Action News they brought in outside contractors to help with the process, and their site was tested for 1,700 hits per second.

They believe the site was receiving three times that amount of traffic on Monday morning after tickets went on sale at 9 a.m.

SEPTA is selling a total of 350,000 passes for the weekend - 175,000 for both Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27. The passes are $10.

Only 201 tickets were sold on Monday morning. SEPTA confirms that most transactions were not completed.

This glitch adds to the growing confusion in the city about what residents and workers can expect in late September.

Among the unanswered questions: Which streets will be closed to traffic? What about parking? Which bus routes will run? Will there be a security fence and, if so, where will it be?

The answers will have to come from the Secret Service and the federal government, but those answers are not expected until early September.

Jim Giblin, the general manager of the 558 unit Kennedy House says the lack of information is making it very tough to plan.

"The residents are asking how their guests will come in, and how will they be able to get supplies they may need? Will the restaurants and the food markets surrounding our buildings be closed? And if so, for what length of time?" Giblin said.

Rob Calabrese runs the Philly Team Store, where papal visit items now mingle with his sports merchandise. He's not worried about closed streets and big crowds. Instead, his worry is about getting to work via SEPTA. He lived through Monday's ticket sale meltdown.

"Very concerned about it, that I'm not going to be able to get here or how I'm going to get here. It's going to be a struggle," Calabrese said.

Officials at local hospitals and the airport are also working to figure out how to get staffers in during the pope's visit.

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