Less than two hours after sales for the SEPTA Papal Pass launched, the site was taken down due to technical problems caused by a high volume of visitors clamoring to buy their special $10 tickets.
Within minutes of the tickets going on-sale at 9 a.m. today, 64,000 carts were loaded on the website and ready to purchase 250,000 $10 Papal Passes, said SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch.
"We tested for 1,700 [sales] a second over the weekend," Busch said. "This was within 10 to 15 minutes."
Busch said they don't know yet if the massive traffic came from would-be scalpers swarming the site.,
"I don’t have any insight into that one way or the other, but we’ll certainly ask that question," he said. "We would hope something like that would not happen, especially in keeping with the spirit of the event."
SEPTA expects to announce on Tuesday when Papal Pass sales will resume, Busch said.
The Papal Passes, for Regional Rail travel only, cost $10 each. Riders must choose their departure time and destination station when buying the passes.
According to Busch, most of the 350,000 Papal Passes that will be sold are still available. There are 175,000 passes available per day for Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 26-27.
"SEPTA is limiting the number of passes that will be sold, and requiring pre-purchase of the passes, to keep crowd numbers consistent with the capacity that will be available on Regional Rail trains and insure surety of service," SEPTA GM Joe Casey told Metro readers in the July 20 Ask SEPTA column.
During the weekend of the papal visit, visitors can only enter the city on Regional Rail by accessing the end stations of each line.
The only drop-off points in Philadelphia will be 30th Street Station, University City, and Jefferson Station, according to preliminary information released by SEPTA.
Suburban Station will not be open due to security concerns, Busch said.
Papal pilgrims will then have to travel by foot to their destinations as connecting SEPTA service will not be available within the event area.
"We will double capacity by modifying Regional Rail operations, in an effort to accommodate travel demand," Casey told Metro readers in Ask SEPTA. "A total of just 18 outlying Regional Rail stations will be in operation. All other stations will be closed during the weekend. This will allow SEPTA to run express-type inbound-only service in the morning to the events, and outbound-only service afterwards."
Meanwhile, PATCO riders can use their Freedom Cards to enter Philadelphia, or get special Papal Visit passes at www.ridepatco.org/PapalVisit.
Those passes cost $5.00 for a one-day, $10 for a two-day. FREEDOM card holders will pay $2.50 a ride.