SEPTA Key

Shh! SEPTA Key is already live … if you’re old enough

Key Photo old

The SEPTA Key digital turnstiles have tempted us and caused delays since they started popping up around the city last fall. SEPTA keeps saying to be patient, that the highly-anticipated technology should be ready by some point this year. But not everyone has to continue waiting: SEPTA has confirmed to Billy Penn that people age 65 and up can use the Key system right now. Senior citizens are experiencing this tokenless future before everyone else with the simple swipe of a driver’s license.

A major component of SEPTA Key is the ability to read the magnetic strip on the back of driver’s licenses. Anyone age 65 and older can swipe his or her license and get a free ride on the subway, bus and trolley lines. On many of the city’s newly-installed SEPTA Key digital turnstiles this technology is already working.

“Some seniors have found that they have been able to use it,” said Andrew Busch, public information manager for SEPTA. “It’s kind of been a word of mouth thing among customers.”

Busch warns that not all of the turnstiles are fully functional. They might not always read a swiped driver’s license. That’s why SEPTA has not made a formal announcement. If a driver’s license doesn’t scan, seniors can still present their transit ID card, Medicare ID card or Railroad Retirement Annuity card to a station employee.

First conceptualized in 2007, SEPTA has been cautious with launching the Key in part because of the mess that ensued after Chicago converted to its Ventra system. Riders complained about machines that didn’t read their cards and being charged twice for rides.

SEPTA Key, when it fully launches, will make tokens and the pain of not being able to break a $20 bill with a station employee a thing of the past. People will be able to store money for rides on SEPTA Key cards, their debit or credit cards and even on an IPhone 6.

The scanning of a driver’s license is just another piece of the future… the piece that (for some) is ready right now.

Want some more? Explore other SEPTA Key stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?