The fare system of Philadelphia's future arrives Monday.
SEPTA Key, the electronic fare card that will eventually replace passes and tokens on the region's public transportation network, is being made available to 10,000 people - first come, first served - in the coming weeks.
SEPTA officials are keen to demonstrate the system's capabilities, and a brief presentation Thursday showed how cash, tokens, and - for the first time on SEPTA's system - credit cards can be used on kiosks to buy the new cards.
These kiosks are in six stops on the Market Frankford Line and six stops on the Broad Street Line. Once you have the card, though, you can "reload" it like an E-ZPass - setting up an account online, or over the phone, and adding to it as needed.
The new cards can be purchased as a weekly pass, which offers as many as 56 rides in a week for $24, on Monday. The following Monday, June 20, SEPTA will make a monthly option available for the Key Card, offering as many as 240 rides for $91. The debut comes after years of installation and months of testing that sought to remove bugs from the system before the public uses it.
"We feel we're in good shape for the launch next Monday," said Rich Burnfield, SEPTA's deputy general manager.
The cards will work on the subway, buses, trolleys, the Norristown High Speed Line, and for weekend trips on the Regional Rail.
SEPTA Key, installed by Xerox, was supposed to go online in 2013, but problems have delayed the $220 million system. Monday's rollout is going to use only portions of the system's full functionality. Its scanners eventually should be able to read contactless credit cards and PATCO's Freedom cards with a tap, and also accept payments through smartphone systems such as Apple Pay. Transportation experts around the country have said all eyes will be on Philadelphia as SEPTA Key goes online. It is one of the largest, most sophisticated open pay systems of its kind, they have said.
As of Monday, more than 300 employees will be deployed to stations where Key is on sale to assist customers, and SEPTA has also installed customer assistance boxes where riders can call SEPTA's offices for additional help.
SEPTA hasn't decided when the full system will be online, and when the cards will be available to all customers.
Where the Key Cards can be purchased:
Market Frankford Line:
69th Street Transportation Center
52nd Street Station
30th Street Station
15th Street Station/ Dilworth Park
Erie Torresdale Station
Frankford Transportation Center
Broad Street Line:
Olney Transportation Center
Cecil B. Moore Station