Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) New Payment Technology System (The Key)

Procurement and deployment of a new fare payment system and associated services

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority | USA | 2007 - ongoing

Can function as a MasterCard debit card

Can be used on all SEPTA transit vehicles and trains

SEPTA is the sixth-largest transit agency in the United States


  • Provide technical, procurement support, and program management services for a new integrated electronic fare payment system
  • Develop a system that expands ways for customers to pay fares, especially those without access to traditional banking services
  • Develop a system that is accepted across all SEPTA services, including buses, light rail vehicles (trolleys), rapid transit, commuter rail, paratransit, and the agency’s parking system
  • Develop a system that reduces the frequency of cash use and produces real-time operations and revenue data to improve agency decision-making
  • Develop a system that provides customers easy access to online, self-service account tools


  • Created a flexible fare payment and collection system offering a variety of means for customers to pay fares, including a SEPTA-issued smart card, magnetic media, bank-issued contactless cards, fobs, mobile phones, third-party issued ISO-compliant devices, and cash
  • Assisted with design of faregate layouts at subway, elevated, and regional rail stations
  • Oversaw installation of faregates and vending equipment, and integration with safety and communications systems and scheduling
  • Developed a system that features an open payments architecture and integrates a variety of elements: fare vending devices, smart media processors integrated into new turnstiles, new fare gates, validators onboard surface vehicles, a central data collection and reporting system, web portals for customers, schools, employers, and social service providers, and maintenance services for the procured system elements
  • Provided extensive support for new fare policies, common media, pricing, and transition throughout the project
  • Supported SEPTA throughout the procurement process, including development of detailed responses to vendor questions, procurement addenda, and technical documents for the Best-and-Final-Offer (BAFO)


  • The Key will eliminate the collection, processing, and packaging of 35,000,000 traditional subway tokens every year
  • The Key will record thousands of electronic transactions each minute, allowing for ridership growth
  • The Key is a first-in-the-nation, flexible, open payment system offering a variety of means for customers to pay fares across all modes of transportation operated by SEPTA

Project numbers

Project cost: $140 million
SEPTA commuter rail stations: 75
Subway stations: 153
Surface vehicles: 1, 850
Parking pay stations: 200

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