SEPTA rolls out new multi-rider feature for Key card holders

Starting Monday, passengers with a SEPTA Key card can tap in up to five riders for the same trip.

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SEPTA Key card

SEPTA Key (Danya Henninger / Billy Penn)

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Multiple riders can now use the same SEPTA Key card on the same trip across all available methods of travel in the region.

Launching Monday, the new multi-rider feature will allow up to five riders to use the same Key card when taking a SEPTA bus, trolley, the Broad Street Line, the Market-Frankford Line, the Norristown High Speed Line and Regional Rail. All riders will still be able to transfer twice, and Regional Rail trips will retain the two-hour ride limit. Riders will need to tap on and tap off to get the correct fare.

In order to use the feature, the SEPTA Key must have Travel Wallet autoload turned on with a minimum amount of $10, and the card balance also must exceed the trip’s fare. For example, if five people are taking a one-way bus ride with one card, then the card’s balance must exceed $10.

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When using SEPTA Keys, all taps must be within one minute. Taps can be on a bus or trolley validator or a combination of taps on different turnstiles at a station. However, SEPTA recommends solo riders be mindful not to double tap when the multi-rider feature is turned on.

In September, SEPTA riders gained the ability to pay for fares with their bank cards and smartphone wallets as part of the agency’s plans to upgrade its electronic fare collection system.

Overall, ridership remains well below pre-pandemic levels. More than 644,000 people used the system on average last month — still 65% of the average ridership for January 2019, according to SEPTA. Ridership last month was 11% higher than in January 2023.

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SEPTA received its largest federal grant last week to purchase 200 new rail cars for the Market-Frankford Line, which haven’t been replaced since the late ‘90s. The agency has also started discussions to expand Regional Rail service.

SEPTA is facing a budget shortfall of $240 million when pandemic funds expire in July. Gov. Josh Shapiro introduced a plan to increase public transit funding across the state by 1.75%, which would generate nearly $1.5 billion over five years. If the transit agency can’t secure that funding, service could be cut by 20% and fares could increase by as much as 30% this fall.

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