Want to ride the train to see the pope? You'll have to buy a lottery ticket

This story appears in the Francis in the United States feature series. View the full series.

Sara Weissman

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Anticipating a stampede of customers during Pope Francis' upcoming visit to Philadelphia, a regional rail line will hold an online lottery for 24-hour regional rail passes for travel on Sept. 26 and 27.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, known as SEPTA, is reportedly selling 175,000 passes for each day of the pope's Philadelphia visit, for a total of 350,000 passes.

The lottery, hosted by Amazon.com and in partnership with the Philadelphia firm Ticketleap, will give riders the opportunity to win a limited number of $10 day passes that will be required for transportation on Regional Rail during the pope's stay.

"If you want to ride the Regional Rail as a regular rider going to work or as someone coming in to see the pope, you have to enter," said SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams.

The pope will attend the World Meeting of Families gathering in Philadelphia. He will also celebrate a papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that is expected to draw over 1 million worshippers, said Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families.

Ticketleap will put up a website for the Papal Visit One Day Regional Rail Pass lottery and open lottery registration from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Monday. The link to the lottery will appear on SEPTA's website.

Lottery participants can buy a total of 10 passes per each day of the pope's visit. Customers taking SEPTA to work and those traveling to see the pope will have equal chances of winning. Those who enter the lottery earlier will have no advantage over those who enter later in the day.

Winners will receive congratulatory emails Aug. 6 and will be given three days to pay online. Passes will arrive in the mail within two to three weeks after payment is received.

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