SEPTA’s new fare system will skip a ‘generation of cards’

Though SEPTA has been way behind the curve with payment technology, the new payment system rolling out later this year will make New York and Washington’s fare cards seem obsolete, says Newsworks.

The new payment system at the 13th Street El stop. Pick by Kimberly Paynter for Newsworks
The new payment system at the 13th Street El stop. Pic by Kimberly Paynter for Newsworks

The new payment system, which will eliminate tokens in favor or smart cards that you can link to a credit card, is in the testing phase now and will start rolling out by this summer.

Says Newsworks:

Philadelphia will soon make a big leap, said Matthew Mitchell, president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers.  “What’s happening with the SEPTA plan is they’re going to completely skip the generation of cards that New York and Washington have been using,” he said.

Mitchell said SEPTA is going directly to the new open payments model “where, besides having the option of using a system-branded ‘smart card,’ a SEPTA card, you’ll eventually be able to use any regular credit or debit card that has a chip encoded in it.”

Bring it on. We’re sick of having to go to an ATM to get tokens.

5 thoughts on “SEPTA’s new fare system will skip a ‘generation of cards’

  • January 15, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Any idea if SEPTA is referring to the RFID chips currently in many cards, or the “chip and pin” type that are slowly (finally) rolling out in the US?

    • January 16, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      I think they are going for the “chip and pin” type, since they are allowing for the use of NFC-enabled phones and the like.

      Since it’s open fare, I would love to see some artisans in the city create some cool trinkets with chips to use on the bus.

  • January 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    can I still get a transfer for a buck? can I still get bulk rides (tokens) at a discount?

    • January 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm


      I think paper transfers will be eliminated with the new fare system. Transfers are only available when using a smart card.The dollar transfer fee would be deducted from your smart card balance. In otherwords, if you pay cash, there are no more $1 transfers.

      • January 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm

        If you get a card, the process is going to be much easier. You will no longer have to worry about buying tokens or getting paper transfers on your card. Basically, you can just go up to a machine (or, hopefully, just access your account online) and load your account with money.

        The system is smart enough to know when you are transferring, so you just tap your card down like usual and you will get charged $1 instead of the full fare.

        This is really going to change rider habits. I can’t tell you how many times I have not taken SEPTA because I did not want to deal with the hassle of buying more tokens.

        In DC, I could just dump $50 or so on a card and not have to worry, and that encouraged me to use the bus more.

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