A Next Step in Fare Payment: SEPTA’s Key Card
Philadelphia

At a Glance

  • Client(s)
  • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
  • Work Performed By
  • LTK Ambler
  • Project Contact
  • John McGee, Senior Director, Revenue Systems & Technology
  • Project Description
  • Procurement and deployment of a new fare payment system and associated services
  • Project Duration
  • 2007- Present
  • Project Cost
  • $140 million

The Challenge


Improved Customer Convenience is the SEPTA Key 

To improve customer convenience while increasing ridership and revenue, SEPTA needed to overhaul its fare collection system. SEPTA wanted to expand ways customers pay fares and  expand fare media sales channels, especially for customers without access to traditional banking services. SEPTA’s vision included new customer-friendly fare products and media accepted across all SEPTA services, including buses, light rail vehicles (trolleys), rapid transit, commuter rail, paratransit services and SEPTA’s parking system. SEPTA also identified the need to strengthen its revenue processes, reduce the frequency of cash use, and produce real-time operations and revenue data to improve agency decision-making. Finally, SEPTA wanted to give customers easy access to online, self-service account tools.

Our Continued Commitment


LTK was selected by SEPTA to provide technical, procurement support, and program management services for new fare payment technology, known as the SEPTA Key system. This new state-of-the-art, integrated, electronic fare payment, distribution, collection, and processing system uses all the best practices of modern technologies in the consumer and fare payment sectors. It’s also capable of connecting with banking systems for transaction processing.

LTK worked closely with SEPTA on the procurement strategy, including providing fare policy and alternatives analyses. LTK developed the detailed technical specification and procurement documents, as well as the summary systems requirement specification and operations analysis documentation for the system design decisions. LTK assisted SEPTA with design of faregate layouts at subway, elevated and regional rail stations, passenger throughput during and after installation, oversight of installation of faregates and vending equipment, and integration with safety and communications systems and scheduling.

The Solutions


The new SEPTA Key system is a flexible “open” payment system offering a variety of means for customers to pay fares across all modes of transportation operated by SEPTA, including SEPTA-issued smart card and magnetic media, bank-issued contactless cards, key fobs, mobile phones, and cash. Services include an outsourced customer support center, back-end systems management as well as equipment maintenance services.

The Results


The SEPTA Key system will eliminate the collection, processing and packaging of 35,000,000 traditional subway tokens every year. The Key system will record thousands of electronic transactions each minute, allowing growth beyond SEPTA’s current ridership of more than a million trips each weekday.

SEPTA Key is currently in the transit pilot phase with new fare collection equipment deployed on all surface vehicles and transit stations. The new back office system is processing and reconciling transactions in support of the transit pilot, which is testing the new system under real world conditions.

Did You Know?


  • The SEPTA Key carries a MasterCard logo and will be accepted for everyday purchases along with regional transit use.
  • Students attending Philadelphia public schools will use their school ID and seniors will use their driver’s licenses to electronically pay their fare on SEPTA.
  • The majority of SEPTA regional rail passengers will pay their fares when entering or leaving downtown stations, improving the quality and speed of their rides.