The SEPTA Key card reader. (Charles Mostoller)

In the coming months, some 50,000 Regional Rail riders, some of whom have been riding the same trains to and from work for literally decades, will have to make a big adjustment as SEPTA transitions all one of its most popular transit modes onto using the SEPTA Key. That step is getting closer and closer as SEPTA Key-friendly changes come to the system.

 

Most city transit riders have been using the SEPTA Key for months already to travel around Philly on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines, and the paper Transpass for that system, along with SEPTA tokens, have since been discontinued. But the Regional Rail system has remained untouched, with many riders still using Trailpasses.

 

“This has been a long march and we’re happy to see that it’s finally coming to fruition,” said Leslie Hickman, Chief Officer for Revenue Operations at SEPTA.  “It’s a cultural shift for the Regional Rail customer. … For many of our railroad customers, this is a new thing.”

 

On July 16, Regional Rail riders will have to start going through SEPTA Key turnstiles at Suburban Station with Transpasses or tickets from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The same system will be installed at 30th Street Station on July 23. Starting in August, Zone 4 passengers will get to start using their Keys to travel the rails through the “Early Adopters program.”

 

SEPTA Key, Regional Rail

 

While a final roll-out date isn’t set yet, it won’t be long before the entire Regional Rail requires the Key.That much has been obvious to any Regional Rail riders who have been paying attention in recent months to the new SEPTA key turnstiles, entrances and exits have begun popping up in Philly’s biggest Regional Rail stations, 30th Street, Jefferson and Suburban stations.

“They’ve been seeing for the last year strange devices popping up in our stations,” Hickman said. “When the turnstiles came in, that was the eye-opener, that this is real, the Key is coming to the Regional Rail.”

These incremental changes are intended to slowly accustom riders to the new technology. Fare validators and SEPTA Key ambassadors have also been training to explain the changes to riders, knowing full well they may face some pushback and even outright anger from some commuters.

“We’re not taking them out, we’re not changing the design, what we will do is listen to our customers,” Hickman said. “It’s a challenge but we’re up for the challenge.”

SEPTA Key Brings Changes

Despite the changes, the SEPTA Key is bringing lots of benefits to Philly, Hickman said.

It boosts SEPTA’s sustainability plans by eliminating paper tickets and cards that get thrown away, she said. Paper transfers will stop being issued July 31, with only SEPTA Keys accepted for transfers. Starting Aug. 1, customers will need to use a SEPTA Key Card with a Travel Wallet to get a $1 transfer or $0.50 reduced-fare transfer for those who are eligible.

Meanwhile, customers can load value, including Trailpasses, onto their Key card remotely without waiting in line, and can cancel a card if they lose it without losing any value.

“It’s a faster ride. That tap is instantaneous,” Hickman said. “It speeds your ride.”

By the Numbers

850,000

-SEPTA Key Cards in circulation

145,000

-SEPTA Key senior cards

30,000

-Reduced Fare cards