SEPTA train
Credit: Kurt Raschke / Flickr

After years of cash being the only payment option for trips on the Regional Rail Airport Line, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority suddenly offers two different ways to pay electronically.

And neither is through the SEPTA Key cards that the transit authority has been promoting for forever months. So yes, it’s a little complicated.

On Monday, SEPTA introduced Key kiosks at PHL, allowing passengers to buy single ride “Quick Trip” tickets from the airport to Center City or other stations (the Key doesn’t work from Center City to the airport). Use of the Quick Trip tickets on the airport line, which you cannot purchase through a plastic Key card Travel Wallet, follows the introduction of a brand-new app to the SEPTA ecosystem: Something called Mozio. That app lets people purchase Regional Rail tickets to or from the airport and then activate those tickets when they’re ready to board a train. But the app is not the SEPTA Key Travel Wallet, or an app for it. That will roll out to Regional Rail riders (including to the Airport) at some unspecified time in the future.

Got all that?

“The rolling out of this close to the Quick Trip, it really is both were ready sort of at the same time,” said SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch. “We think they’re going to reach different markets in some respects.”

SEPTA began talking with Mozio late last year, after it was approached by the app-maker. Mozio lets users purchase ground transportation at various major airports around the world, such as JFK in New York, Heathrow in London and SFO in San Francisco. SEPTA and Mozio agreed to a six-month pilot program that will last until October, only for the Airport Line. SEPTA doesn’t pay for the service but gives a commission on each purchase to Mozio.

In its announcement of the plan on the SEPTA website, SEPTA writes, “Please note, SEPTA is not responsible for inactive, inaccessible, or expired tickets, nor is SEPTA responsible for technical problems with mobile devices, the Mozio platform, or the Mozio mobile app.”

A screenshot from the Mozio app that lets you buy Airport Line Regional Rail tickets. Credit: Screenshot

Busch said SEPTA hopes the app will bring them to a wider audience of national and international travelers who would favor ride-sharing and wouldn’t normally think to use SEPTA, which makes sense — they’re visitors, not residents. There’s a possibility the program could last longer for six months. Busch said SEPTA will evaluate its popularity and make a decision. After two weeks, he said they didn’t have any concrete data.

Of course, after six months SEPTA hopes the Key will be more extensive than it is now. Later this year, the technology is supposed to be available more widely on Regional Rail lines. At some point in the future, the Key also supposed to be available via app, similar to Mozio.

“We thought it was worth trying to give our riders more options,” Busch said. “We’re still working on developing our own app for the Key. It doesn’t affect anything with that.”

Mark Dent is a reporter/curator at BillyPenn. He previously worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he covered the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football and the Penn State administration. His...