The long road of the SEPTA SmartCard system takes us back a few years, but now the proposed implementation dates are fast approaching, and with that, we’ve got more news: Say goodbye to those outdated, godforsaken tokens. According to the latest information (which we had kinda already figured), SEPTA tokens will be a thing of the past when SEPTA’s SmartCard/smart phone/credit card accepting system goes into place.
So what’s the timeline?
The new payment system is leaving the design phase, and prototypes will start appearing soon, with pilot programs beginning this summer. The new payment system is meant to debut on intercity transit lines this fall, but first SEPTA plans to outfit its entire fleet of trolleys and buses, and replace many of the turnstile entrances to subway and elevated rail lines. The current turnstiles are 24 years old and are not legal under the 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act. They have to be completely scrapped (some token-equipped turnstiles will remain during the transition, but all will be replaced by spring 2014). Tokens will stop being sold in the spring 2014, and a few months later the new regional rail payment system will first be unveiled to the public. The current regional rail payment system will not be entirely phased out until the fall that year.”
In addition, we hadn’t heard previous mention of the status of monthly or weekly passes (without which would, frequent riders would be paying per-ride rather than per-week or month, costing them much more), but NextCity assures us they will still exist, saying “Weekly and monthly passes will still be available, just not in individual card form. Instead, an account can be set to automatically purchase a new weekly or monthly pass until the rider changes it.”
So, we’re looking at some changes this fall, some more in early/Spring 2014, and then a full system replacement by Fall of 2014. As always, we’ll believe it when we see it, which should have been years ago.