SEPTA Is Finally Going to Let Us Pay With Our Phones

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY NETWORK

This is a game changer! Trying to load money onto your SEPTA card from your phone is torture.

I know the initial reaction from people is going to be the subway sucks, we have to clean up the tent cities down there, fuck Kenney, yada, yada, yada. I understand all of that. The eternal optimist in me believes that we’ll continue to climb out of the pandemic and transit police numbers will increase back to pre-pandemic levels. If I’m completely wrong, hey, at least I get to pay with my phone now instead of taking five minutes to load my Key Card as I watch my train go by.

Lizzy McLellan Ravitch at Billy Penn has more on the pilot program which SEPTA hopes to rollout fully by October:

SEPTA is about to launch the second testing phase for technology that will allow users to tap in and out with their smartphone, on all transit modes except Regional Rail.

The agency is currently seeking a few hundred volunteers who ride the bus, Broad Street Line, Market-Frankford Line, trolleys and Norristown High Speed Line, SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch told Billy Penn.

The new method means that riders can use a SEPTA Key account on their smartphone without any card at all, Busch said, though the cards will still be available to riders as an option.

If all goes well with the next pilot, slated to start in September, the smartphone tickets will be usable across all modes except Regional Rail later in the fall, Busch said, potentially in October.

The goal is to implement mobile tickets on Regional Rail in spring 2023, which will allow all SEPTA users to pay for rides on their phone system-wide. The longer timeline is due to Regional Rail’s different fare structure, per Busch, and the need for new technology at outlying stations.

Look at SEPTA. Just five years ago we were using tokens to get on the subway and now we’re going to be able to use our phones. There’s nothing worse after an Eagles game and getting stuck behind the person who doesn’t know how to swipe their fare. One slip up and the flow of traffic is now ruined. You miss the Express train and now you’re stuck taking the Local back to the city, or even worse, Fern Rock. SEPTA is going to have those lines HUMMING with their new feature “multitap”. Now you can swipe in up to five riders at a time:

The upgrades will also allow users to “multitap,” paying for multiple riders on a single account (up to five people), which is especially useful for frequent riders hosting out-of-town visitors, Busch noted.

What took so long? Now your idiot friend who never has money on his Key Card isn’t responsible for you missing the train. Or now your parents who come to the city once a month don’t have to load $10 onto a Key Card they’re definitely going to lose by the time they re-visit. We’re slowly getting there.