The pole was greased. The pole was climbed. (Instagram/@amtlphilly)

A history of the SEPTA Key and Conduent’s $285 million payout

SEPTA officials announced last month they were searching for a new vendor to steward the region’s electronic transit fare system into the future. 

  • Transit riders are keeping fingers crossed it doesn’t get mired in the same delays and cost overruns as the lengthy SEPTA Key rollout, which ended up paying vendor Conduent double its original contract.

How did that all go down? Jordan Levy gives us an abridged timeline of the roller-coaster road to the SEPTA Key

A SEPTA Key kiosk outside the Chinatown Station on the Broad-Ridge Spur. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

Taylor Swift’s tour stop was a boom weekend for Philly

The second weekend in May was a bit of a “gold rush” when it came to hotel bookings in Philadelphia.

  • Taylor Swift’s three-night Eras Tour stand at the Linc combined with Penn graduation to create the best tourism showing since the pandemic hit — and any time since the 2016 DNC.

Rooms were nearly sold out despite an average daily rate close to $450, Asha Prihar reports, and food and transportation got a boost, too.

Taylor Swift in a glittering suit jacket, standing defiantly in an office-style set on stage, with the mic to her mouth, surrounded by a handful of backup singers also dressed in suits.
Taylor Swift performs during “The Eras Tour” in May 2023. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

RECAP: What else happened?

$ = paywalled

• Cherelle Parker holds her first news conference today since becoming the Democratic nominee for Philly mayor, after meeting with Gov Shapiro. After missing her victory party due to a dental issue, her first public appearance was at Friday’s PABJ awards gala. [6ABC/CBS3]

• A second bus full of asylum-seekers arrived in Philly last week, making 23 buses total sent here from Texas, bringing nearly 1,000 immigrants. [Phila Gov] 

• At Strawberry Mansion High School, retiring life skills teacher Leslie Archer made sure her students with intellectual disabilities didn’t miss out by creating the school’s first-ever Sneaker Ball. [Billy Penn]

• Headlines of Yore explores the story of Harry Gold, the South Philly kid turned spy who passed atomic secrets to the Soviets and played a role in the Rosenbergs’ executions. [Billy Penn]

• Star receiver AJ Brown nearly got hit by a car during the bike ride for the Eagles Autism Challenge, which raised $6.2 million. Related: Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata, and Lane Johnson were back in the studio — possibly making a sequel to “A Philly Special Christmas,” which raised $1.25 million. [USA Today/Eagles/Instagram/BP 2022]

• Good news for Dizengoff fans: the Sansom Street hummusiya is expanding into a full-service restaurant, taking over Abe Fisher, which will close. CookNSolo is also replacing Merkaz next to Fergie’s Pub with another Goldie Falafel location. [Inquirer$] 


Not a thing on Monday’s schedule for Philly’s 99th mayor, who still has seven months left in his term.


💉 Join the Philly Asian American Film Festival for a free screening of ‘Angel Dose,” a short documentary about a local nurse rushing to deliver expiring COVID vaccines to homebound patients. (8 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24)

🎊 Northern Liberties Night Market returns for a spring stroll full of sips, sweets, and savory food in the waning sunshine along 2nd Street between Fairmount and West Laurel. (5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, May 25)