SEPTA’s New Payment Technology Will Be Called SEPTA Key

Just don't expect to see it anytime too soon.

Lots of new developments coming out of SEPTA these days. There’s the new 24-hour SEPTA service that debuts on June 15th. There’s the covert text-to-911 plan in the works for riders who see something bad happening on SEPTA. And then there’s the New Payment Technology, which will be called SEPTA Key.

SEPTA won’t confirm that’s the name, but a quick search of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s database reveals a recent trademark on “SEPTA Key” with the logo pictured here. (That, and one SEPTA higher-up let it slip during a conversation.)

The trademark covers, among other things, “encoded contactless smart cards and electronic fobs containing programming used for making secure payments for all modes of public transportation… for use throughout the Delaware Valley and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

As for when you’ll be able to ditch your tokens in favor of a SEPTA Key, don’t hold your breath. The SEPTA Key program is well over a year behind schedule.

“Things are delayed,” admits SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams. “But we are not apologizing for that. We want to make sure everything is right. We are pulling back on the reins a bit so that everything is to our liking.”

Williams says that phase one of the SEPTA Key pilot program is currently scheduled to begin in September. “We will be giving the cards to a number of internal and external people,” she explains, adding that the SEPTA Key cards won’t be available to the general public until February or March of 2015.

Here’s a pretty entertaining SEPTA request-for-proposals video from way back in 2008 showing just how inefficient the SEPTA fare collection system is. “We hope this video has been informative, as we are seeking qualified respondents to deploy a modern fare payment system throughout the region using advanced technologies,” says the narrator.