PlanPhilly

SEPTA Key makes its wide release this month, to debut on the Airport Line in April

Like an art house film with a lot of hype, SEPTA Key is finally going from limited release to wide distribution. SEPTA riders who have been clamoring to get their hands on the teal ticket card will no longer have to schlep to 69th Street Station or SEPTA’s Headquarters.

Starting March 13th and continuing through March 24th, SEPTA will activate kiosks at all of the Market-Frankford El and Broad Street Subway stations, along with kiosks at SEPTA’s city bus loops, to sell SEPTA Key.

Riders who don’t have a SEPTA Key card will be able to pick one up at these locations. All of the cards will have the token-replacing “Travel Wallet” function activated. Passengers will need to put a minimum of $10 on a new card.

SEPTA officials encouraged all new cardholders to register their SEPTA Keys online. “Register the Key card for travel protection, so that if you lose the Key card you’ll be able to have that protection for the funds that you put on the Key card,” urged Rich Burnfield, SEPTA’s Deputy General Manager. Burnfield also touted the ability to reload SEPTA Key with funds online and to set up an auto-load option: Scheduling your bank or credit card to add some sum periodically to your SEPTA Key account. So far, 39,000 SEPTA Key holders have registered their cards.

This step will very nearly complete the long implementation of SEPTA Key as a fare instrument on SEPTA’s buses, trolleys and subways.

The next major step: Introducing SEPTA Key on Regional Rail.

SEPTA will partially activate SEPTA Key on its Airport Regional Rail line starting in mid-to-late April. “We want to have it in place for the NFL Draft,” said Burnfield. Philadelphia will host the NFL Draft (for the first time since 1961) April 27-29.

Riders will be able to use one of the ten kiosks spread across the airport terminals to buy a Quick Trip ticket before they board the train. The tickets will provide purchase options for riders going to Eastwick, the Center City stations, and “via” trips to stations beyond Center City on Regional Rail, said Burnfield.

Many Philadelphians have lamented the confusing introduction to the city and SEPTA that greets visitors at Philadelphia International Airport looking for the train into Center City. There were no ticket kiosks, confusing first-time visitors.

“I couldn’t figure out who to pay,” said Kyle Srivastava, who flew in from Minnesota this weekend and boarded a train to Center City. Srivastava said he was confused even though he rode Regional Rail with some regularity when he used to live in Delaware. Srivastava also said that the conductors ultimately never collected a fare from him and his wife, despite the fact that the train was half empty.

There are still a few more SEPTA Key steps to take before it’s fully implemented on transit. SEPTA is continuing to shift monthly and weekly pass holders to SEPTA Key, as well as senior citizens, who ride transit for free. In the fall, SEPTA will switch companies that offer passes through the federal commuter tax credit program to SEPTA Key.

Eventually, the system will shift entirely to SEPTA Key cards, with the option to purchase one-way “quick trip” tickets as well. That will take a long time and there will be plenty of advance notice.

“We will continue to accept tokens for the foreseeable future,” said Burnfield.

Burnfield said that this announcement answers the three questions customers have asked SEPTA the most: When would SEPTA Key’s Travel Wallet become widely available? When will seniors get their new cards? When will it rollout on Regional Rail?

When asked how he felt about the sometimes-rocky rollout, Burnfield said he was happy. “I've always felt good about our rollout. The way we have rolled this out incrementally, we've been able to watch very closely how we've been able to rollout all of the features, been able to respond individually to customers. So I’ve been very happy with the rollout since last June.”

SEPTA KEY KIOSK LOCATION ACTIVIATION SCHEDULE

March 13:

Market Frankford Line: 15th Street Plaza, 15th Street Express, 13th Street, 11th Street
Broad Street Line: Cecil B. Moore, AT&T, Walnut-Locust, Dilworth Park, Olney
Bus Loops: Olney

March 14:

Market Frankford Line: 30th Street, 34th Street, Girard, Frankford Transportation Center
Broad Street Line: Erie, Fern Rock, City Hall

March 15:

Market Frankford Line: Spring Garden, 40th Street, 52nd Street, Erie/Torresdale

March 16:

Broad Street Line: Ellsworth-Federal, Snyder, Lombard-South, Fairmount

March 17:

Market Frankford Line:  8th Street, 2nd Street, 5th Street, 1th Street

March 20:

Market Frankford Line: Arrott Transportation Center, 46th Street, 56th Street
Broad Street Line: Spring Garden, Girard, Tasker-Morris, Oregon, Susquehanna-Dauphin

March 21:

Market Frankford Line: Tioga, Huntingdon, Allegheny, York-Dauphin, Church
Broad Street Line: Race-Vine, Chinatown, Hunting Park, Wyoming, Logan

March 22:

Broad Street Line: North Philadelphia, Allegheny, 8th Street Ridge Spur

March 23:

Market Frankford Line: Millbourne, 63rd Street, 60th Street, Berks, Somerset
Bus Loops: Torresdale-Cottman, Wissahickon Transportation Center, 23rd & Venagno, Chester Transportation Center, Drexel Hill Junction

March 24:

Bus Loops: Cheltenham-Ogontz, Darby Transportation Center, 63rd & Malvern, 33rd & Dauphin, Norristown Transportation Center


About the author

Jim Saksa, Reporter

Jim Saksa is PlanPhilly's multi-modal transportation reporter. That means he's focused on how Philly gets around as cyclists, pedestrians, trail users, commuters and drivers. 

Jim lives in Point Breeze and has also written for Slate.com, Philadelphia City Paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Technical.ly Philly. He tweets @Saksappeal and you can reach him at jsaksa@whyy.org.



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