SEPTA key

SEPTA Key nearly 25 percent installed, could be ready by April

Within the last month, officials at SEPTA have more than doubled the amount of digital turnstiles and validators installed throughout the city’s modes of public transportation, the transit authority confirmed Friday. SEPTA has now installed 25 percent of its new digital system, signaling a quick pace, as the agency has said the system will go into operation once it’s 50 percent installed.

This means that SEPTA installed about 15 percent of its new digital system within the past month and a half. Based on that pace, users should be able to use SEPTA Key by the end of April, though SEPTA won’t confirm a roll-out date.

SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch told Billy Penn that pilot testing involving SEPTA employees remains ongoing. Here’s what’s been installed so far:

  • Turnstiles: 105 installed at subway/subway elevated stations (Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines)
  • Buses: 343 of the existing 1,400 buses and trolleys are now outfitted with the new validators, but payment systems that had already been in place on these may still be used
  • Regional Rail: Sorry guys, but these aren’t projected to get SEPTA Key until 2016

What’s this mean? The backlogs at the turnstiles are going to continue, and as we told you in December, they’ll get worse before they get better as SEPTA officials continue installing turnstiles and taking out machines that accept tokens.

As a passenger, there’s not much you can do to expedite the process if you’re standing in line waiting at the turnstiles. Remember: The orange ones do accept TransPasses and TrailPasses, and you can always just hand your token to the person sitting in the booth. Meanwhile, SEPTA is going to continue going through a controlled testing process with ten teams of employees and contractors who are looking for bugs on both the front and back ends of the system.

While SEPTA won’t provide a timeline for when it’s going to publicly launch, it has provided details of what the digital system will operate like. Passengers will get a card that’s similar to a credit or debit card and it will have a contactless chip in it, so that when you go through a turnstile, you just have to tap the card on top. You’ll be able to load money in the form of weekly or monthly passes (or individual rides) in person or online. PATCO users will also be able to use Freedom Cards to pay SEPTA fares.

Want to know when SEPTA is going full public with the Key? Subscribe to our SEPTA Key story, and we’ll email you as soon as news happens.

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