It’s a common critique of modern capitalism that our society does not value something until there is a price on it. Starting this May, SEPTA will force riders to assign a value to its Key Cards: $4.95.
During the long rollout of the new fare system, SEPTA Key cards were free. But beginning May 4, riders will need to pony up $4.95 for a new one. (Such card purchase charges are common among other fare card systems, like the SmartTrip in Washington, D.C. or London’s Oyster cards.)
SEPTA riders will be reimbursed for their card payment as long as they register the new card within 30 days of purchase. By registering the cards, SEPTA riders will be protected in the event that they lose or damage their Key cards. Once registered, a rider’s travel funds and passes will be account based, like a debit card — rather than card based, like a gift card — and the reimbursed funds will be added to the card’s account. Though SEPTA does plan to limit the reimbursement to just two cards per customer account.
In response to customer feedback, SEPTA is also lowering the minimum load amount in the Key card’s “Travel Wallet“ from $10 to $5.
The “Travel Wallet” function replaces tokens, which will no longer be sold by SEPTA come April 30. Tokens will still be accepted and can be used to add value to Key cards at SEPTA fare kiosks and ticket counters.