The SEPTA strike and the latest delay for the next phase of the Key

Plan was to roll out the “digital wallet” system on November 7, and then…

SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Kneuppel uses a Key card at a turnstile in the concourse under Dilworth Park

SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Kneuppel uses a Key card at a turnstile in the concourse under Dilworth Park

Anna Orso / Billy Penn

SEPTA Key is delayed again.

The rollout of the Key’s Travel Wallet program, the technology allowing for riders to purchase multiple rides on a card, was scheduled for Nov. 7, according to SEPTA promotional material. But the launch of the most important piece of the SEPTA Key yet is likely to be pushed back. Media relations director Carla Showell-Lee said the timetable for the launch of this part of the technology is now by the end of the calendar year.

The latest delay coincides with the threat of a strike. SEPTA’s contract with the Transport Workers Union Local 234 ends Oct. 31. The union authorized a strike if a new deal is not reached. TWU 234 represents 4,700 workers, including bus drivers, and trolley and subway operators. A strike could ground SEPTA to a halt. In 2014, TWU 234 and SEPTA reached a two-year deal at the last minute when a strike was imminent.   

However, Showell-Lee denied that the delay of the digital wallet could be traced to the threat of a strike, even though literally all the lines that would use the digital wallet — buses, trolleys, the Market Frankford and Broad Street lines — would be affected if TWU stops work. Showell-Lee stressed that even if the workers go on strike, it would not affect the rollout of the latest Key technology and added that Nov. 7 wasn’t a definitive date.

The Travel Wallet technology lets users pay for $1.80 rides — the same price as a token — by loading money onto a card that can be refilled with cash and credit and debit cards. When it is first rolled out it will be limited in availability, like the Key was when it launched its weekly and monthly pass technology in the summer.

For now, SEPTA customers can buy those weekly and monthly passes with the Key and purchase $2.25 single trips with credit and debit cards.

Want some more? Explore other SEPTA Key stories.

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