SEPTA’s New Tech

By: Greg Keating


You may begin to notice some changes to SEPTA come September of 2013.

SEPTA is introducing a new cutting edge fare payment system that will bring the Philadelphia transportation network to the forefront of all networks in America. The current system in place right now is very out dated and the only major system in the country still utilizing tokens. Andrew Busch, the Press Officer for SEPTA, explained the massive changes that have been in the planning stages for many years now, and even changes that could possibly occur in the future.

So what changes are going to happen?

First off, the token will be eliminated as a payment method. Mr. Busch explained that it will be mainly replaced with a card using “Smart Chip” technology. This card will simply be tapped against a scanner and admission will be granted onto whatever mode of SEPTA transportation you wish. Mr. Busch states, “Just a simple tap and you are on your way”. These cards will be able to be purchased at any SEPTA transit stop. Another option would be to download an app on your smart-phone that will display a QR code that can also be scanned by the system. The app will also allow you to use your credit card to add credit to your SEPTA account making paying for your fare even more effortless.

Being from New York, my first question to Mr. Busch was, “Is this going to be like the Metro Card system?” and his answer was, “No”. Mr. Busch explained that this new system (SEPTA has not designated a name for it yet) will be an open system, not a closed system like New York’s. This means that you can travel from one mode of transportation to the next and they will all use the same payment method. For example, a commuter can touch and go at the City Hall stop on the Broad St. subway line and then touch and go again when getting on Regional Rail to New Jersey from the North Philadelphia stop without having to use another form of payment. SEPTA hopes this will make transportation for the people of the Philadelphia area much easier and simpler.

Mr. Busch also mentioned that SEPTA is, “working with universities to make this as seamless as possible”. He is very excited to see how university students take on the changes because he feels that, “college students will be most eager and welcoming to this new technology”. With most students owning smart phones, they will most likely be utilizing the app that will be available. As of right now, students will have to buy a Smart Chip card or download the app, but in the future, MR. Busch claims that SEPTA hopes that a Smart Chip can be built into your Temple ID.

SEPTA is very excited about these changes. Mr. Busch says they are, “working to make sure everyone knows how to use the new fare system”. SEPTA will be holding open forums for the community throughout the year and beyond in order to get feedback on the changes. In the meantime, it is recommended that you make your peace with the token.


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