SEPTA Key’s ‘travel wallet’ function starts phasing out tokens

SEPTA announced details Monday for the latest SEPTA Key expansion: the new “travel wallet” function, which will allow riders to retire their tokens.

Tokens did not become obsolete overnight; so don’t worry if you have a junk drawer full of them. SEPTA will phase out tokens gradually, and there will be plenty of advance notice. In the meantime, you will also be able to trade in tokens for funds on your travel wallet account.

If you don’t already have a SEPTA Key card, 1,000 new ones will be available at the sales office and Key fare kiosks in SEPTA headquarters, 1234 Market Street. Customers will need to put a minimum of $10 on the card (good for 5 trips), and can put a maximum of $250 (138 trips).

If you already have a SEPTA Key, you can now add funds to your travel wallet in addition to or in lieu of purchasing a weekly or monthly TransPass. If you have an active TransPass, the card reader will not deduct from your travel wallet.

SEPTA Key’s travel wallet also replaces transfers. Your first trip with a SEPTA Key will cost the discounted $1.80 amount. Then, if you tap the card again to board another transit service within 90 minutes, you will pay the $1 transfer fee.  

The system is designed to prevent riders from saving 80 cents by making a quick round trip, said SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch. While he doesn’t expect many problems with transfers, riders who believe they were charged $1.80 when they should have paid just the $1 transfer are encouraged to report the issue to the SEPTA Key call center (the number is on the card). Busch also recommended registering cards so riders can easily check their transaction history, adding that online card registration also provides balance protection if you lose your card.

Eventually, SEPTA riders will be able to use other RFD-equipped tap cards—such as certain credit cards or PATCO’s Freedom Card—on SEPTA Key. But, as with other functionalities so far, SEPTA will likely introduce that aspect separately at some point down the road.

Another delayed function: using one card for multiple people. For now, you won’t be able to tap multiple times to pay for more than one rider. That aspect will be added later.

Early reports from riders this morning were generally enthusiastic and no complaints. The technological upgrade comes just in time for SEPTA to begin rebuilding ridership following the six-day transit strike that ended just a week ago.

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