City

Congrats, SEPTA! You’ve Actually Made a Decent Website

SEPTA Key’s new beta site actually looks ... good?


septa key

This SEPTA Key finally has the website it deserves. Photo by Claudia Gavin.

SEPTA Key, the new-ish payment mechanism in which you load your subway fare onto a plastic debit card, has always been something of a contradiction: It’s meant to be a high-tech, digitally-focused replacement for tokens, and yet the website where you fill it with money is so poorly designed it looks like a relic from the early days of AOL dial-up internet.

Apparently, enough people have complained that SEPTA is finally making some changes. Last week, the agency created a brand new beta site for SEPTA Key. Hooray for democracy in action! The new site is a revelation, a revolution, even. Take a look here at the same information presented two different ways:

septa key new website

Take a look at the SEPTA Key new website verses the old one. Screenshots via septakey.org.

Early exit polling suggests rave reviews for the new site.

https://twitter.com/alexhillman/status/1106579136838074369

It’s not that unusual to see the public unified in total agreement when it comes to public transportation — the hitch is that the agreement usually takes the form of widespread derision. Amid all of the problems and disagreements a city can have amongst itself, after all, it’s nice to have a bogeyman that everyone can universally despise together. For many years, that was SEPTA.

But lately, SEPTA has undergone a major personality change, stringing together a number of decisions that are positively forward-thinking by its own standards. There’s the new SEPTA Key website; another recent curveball was the welcome news of a redesign of SEPTA’s transit maps, some of which hadn’t been updated since the 1940s. SEPTA apparently got a glimpse of what a modern transit agency looks like — and it likes the picture.

The new site’s still provisional, and SEPTA’s asking for feedback. One warning: The feedback page leads you back to SEPTA’s not-very-good main website. The transition from the sleek key card page to the current site is a bit wince-inducing.

So there’s still room for improvement. But if enough people complain, maybe we can get that site changed, too. It worked once.