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Atrios has a post about the stupidity of Septa transfers, which they used to use:

Back in the day, the local transit authority had a paper transfer system. You paid your bus fare with a token or cash, and then an extra dollar if you wanted to transfer to another bus. Making people pay for transfers like this is dumb, generally, but that’s not the point here. 

I forget precisely how the transfer papers were printed, so apologies if I get this slightly wrong, but not only did the driver have to give you the transfer paper, they had to punch it a couple of times to define its parameters in order to ensure it was a “legitimate transfer.” An example of an illegitimate transfer they were trying to prevent would be taking a northbound bus, popping into a store, then using the transfer to complete a round trip on the same bus going south.  

Transfers were a buck, over a base fare of $1.75-$2.50, depending on when (IIRC), so they were hardly an incredible savings anyway.

When I moved to Philadelphia in 1980, I got rid of my car and depended on buses for transportation. As it happened, Septa sold monthly transpasses which were good for unlimited bus rides in the city for about $50 if memory serves. Since I rode the bus to and from work five days a week, it was a good deal whatever the price was, plus I could use it any time to grab a bus for a few blocks here or there. As I lived on 23rd Street, it was often convenient to ride a few blocks into Center City and the buses ran pretty frequently.

Later on, I worked a flextime four day work week and didn’t ride the buses nearly as often, so the transpass was no longer a bargain. That’s when I began to use the tokens which saved a bit on each ride. But if I needed to get a transfer, well, I never did figure out how the transfers worked. I remember I paid my buck one time only to discover the transfer wasn’t any good for the second route that I wanted to take.

Had I grown up with the bus system, I imagine I’d have grown up with the transfer system, but I hadn’t, and as I only needed a transfer very rarely, I never bothered to figure them out. When I needed a second bus, I used a second token.

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