SEPTA to Start Charging for New Key Cards

The agency will credit you back the fee, however. But what we really want to know: When will Regional Rail take Key?


Photo via SEPTA

With the total phaseout of tokens now nearly complete, SEPTA has announced several changes to its card-based fare program based on feedback from riders like you and me.

Beginning May 4th, the transit authority will start charging $4.95 for new SEPTA Key cards. This sort of minimal activation fee is common among other fare card systems nationwide (D.C.’s Metro SmarTrip card costs $2, for example). While obtaining a SEPTA Key has been free since the program was first rolled out in June 2016, SEPTA is offering a reimbursement opportunity that would transfer that $4.95 to consumers’ reloadable Travel Wallets when they register their Key within 30 days of purchase.

Additionally, SEPTA will lower the minimum amount to load funds onto the card’s Travel Wallet (think debit card) from $10 to $5. The $10 threshold was one of the chief complaints SEPTA received.

We’re still waiting for SEPTA Key’s much-needed pass-back feature — the ability to use one card for multiple riders at the same time, which has been loosely promised by transit officials already – as well as the card’s acceptance on Regional Rail lines.

“We’re working on SEPTA Key’s pass-back feature and expect that it’s going to be coming a little later this spring or summer,” SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch tells Philly Mag. “It’s a work in progress. The function isn’t quite there yet, but definitely remains in the plans. Still needs work testing and developing certain technology.”

As for Regional Rail, Busch says SEPTA is conducting some internal testing right now at the five major Center City-area stops: University City, 30th Street Station, Suburban Station, Jefferson Station, and Temple University. Optimization is progressing to the point where SEPTA hopes to establish a limited pilot program for customers later this spring.