SEPTA Key

Your SEPTA Key could soon pay for Philly parking

The idea — now in its first stages — was originally pitched a few weeks ago.

If you load money onto it, the SEPTA Key can function as a MasterCard.

If you load money onto it, the SEPTA Key can function as a MasterCard.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn
michaelawinberg-square-crop-feb2018

There could soon be a new way to pay for parking on Philly streets. In the coming year, SEPTA is considering teaming up with the Philadelphia Parking Authority to adapt the Key so it can be used at PPA kiosks.

“It’s definitely on the horizon in the not too distant future,” SEPTA Chief Press Officer Andrew Busch told Billy Penn.

The idea, which was hinted at in a recent PMN story about unblocking bus stops, was proposed a few weeks ago during an introductory meeting between SEPTA officials and Scott Petri, the new PPA executive director.

According to Busch, the cross-agency collaboration would be relatively easy because the Key is built on a system — called Open Fare Payment — that’s already popular among transit authorities. “We think that gives us some flexibility moving forward,” he said.

However, there’s no definite plan or timeline for implementation — the initiative is only in the first stages of consideration, per Busch. Rolling out Key use on Regional Rail is SEPTA’s first and immediate priority, which Busch estimates will take until “later this year.”

A FAQ page teases that the refillable card, which has already replaced tokens as the main form of payment for Philly public transit, could also be usable to pay for parking at PPA lots across the system, like at Fern Rock, Torresdale, Fox Chase, and Ryers.

After the Regional Rail implementation is complete, both kiosk and lot parking payment will be discussed simultaneously. “We will continue talking to PPA about functionality,” Busch said.

So far, most customer feedback about the Key has been positive, per Busch, but the authority still wants more people to sign up. SEPTA views the additional applications for the card — which may eventually also function as a regular Mastercard debit card — as incentive to get more Philadelphians to use it for bus, subway and trolley travel.

Said Busch: “We definitely encourage people who haven’t switched over [to the Key] to do it now.”