It’s been a good 7 years since SEPTA first announced its plans to move away from the dated token system and transition into a state of the art card system. Well SEPTA has just announced that the new system which they are calling SEPTA Key, will be fully functional on all buses as well as the Broad St. Line and Market-Frankford line by 2015.
SEPTA Key’s name is a play off the famous Benjamin Franklin key, which was used on the famous kite. The new system will be tested by SEPTA employees and select riders in the next coming months. Several turnstiles that accept the new SEPTA Key system are already in place and SEPTA will be on the lookout for any glitches.
Xerox obtained the contract to implement the new system back 2011 despite SEPTA’s original prediction of a fully integrated system by 2010. It seems that SEPTA’s progress with SEPTA Key has been at a snails pace. SEPTA officials have responded to criticism of their sluggish pace by stating that they are more interested in getting it right than getting it fast. To SEPTA’s credit, history has shown that glitches have occurred in similar systems when rushed. Such was the case with Chicago’s Ventra smart card system when it was rolled out in 2013.
As for exactly how the SEPTA Key will work, riders will be able to swipe either their smartphones, smart card, or “contactless” credit card to pay their fares. Regional Rail Riders however will have to wait until 2016 to be able to use the SEPTA Key system. SEPTA is placing the blame on a more complex configuration for the delay. We will keep you posted as more details are revealed.