SEPTA implemented a new policy this month at Jefferson Station that requires regional rail riders to swipe their key cards, tickets, and passes upon exit.
The policy is part of a larger plan intended to make regional rail users’ experience more modernized and autonomous, said SEPTA spokesman, Andrew Busch.
SEPTA now requires riders to tap their key cards at either the turnstile or platform validator to open their trip. Upon completing the trip, passengers must swipe again to exit the station. SEPTA can then calculate the appropriate amount to charge the account linked with the key card.
“Jefferson Station is the first station where we tried this new policy, with the plan being to implement it at the other Center City stations in two-week increments,” Busch said. “Suburban Station is next, on Feb. 5.”
Busch said the larger policy plan includes doing away with paper tickets, passes, and tokens, eventually making SEPTA key cards the only acceptable form of fare.
“We’re going to honor all the paper tickets and work passes people have already bought, but we’re looking to move people away from those types of fares,” Busch said.
The new policy only applies to regional rail users and aims to ensure passengers are paying the correct fare when they travel. Unlike the trolly, subway, and bus lines, which all have set rates, the regional rail uses a system of zones to determine the cost of a ride.
“We weren’t really concerned with fare evasion as much as we were concerned with making sure our riders weren’t over-paying for their commutes,” Busch said.
Riders who use paper fares should not be worried about the changes in policy, Busch said, because the policy is still at least several months away from full implementation.
Reviews from regional rail riders have been mixed.
Lamar Chriss, 22, of Nicetown, said he thinks the new policy will cause more problems.
“It’s really just adding an extra step,” Chriss said. “Why do I have to swipe to leave now when they never had that before? Now there are lines when you’re trying to leave.”
Evelyn Moore, 67, of Rittenhouse, said she felt modernization was inevitable.
“I’m not thrilled about the extra step,” Moore said. “They want technology to make everything easier though, so I guess I’m not surprised.”
Nicole Caulk, 41, of Overbrook, is a SEPTA Key Ambassador at Jefferson Station. She said although the new policy adds an extra step, most people she sees at the station haven’t had any issues.
“You’ll get your occasional grumpy Philly traveler, but for the most part people have been understanding,” Caulk said. “Once people realize this will hopefully prevent them from spending extra money, they’ll be okay with it.”
For more information about SEPTA’s keycard program, visit https://www.iseptaphilly.com/key