SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby ChesterValley » Fri May 11, 2018 11:27 am

I was reading comments on a post to another place and some readers brought up good points.

1. What's going to happen when the train changes tracks at 30th?

2. What will happen if SEPTA has an ungodly delay? Will the timer automatically charge a zone 4 to the key?

3. What happens when someone can't get though the turnstile because their pass malfunctioned? Will there be back ups on the stairs?

4. Will they still use the Legacy Trailpasses which have a 1 second delay and a failure rate to register on the EL or will the roll out go to the key first?

5. If this system is so good as jamesinclair mentioned, why is Boston moving toward PoP?

6. Why is passenger comfort taking a backseat to fare evasion? SEPTA is aiming for a C or D! WHY!? How does this encourage ridership?

7. What is being done to reduce confusion about the mesh of systems, multiple times I've had to explain the zone system and the key. There are no real labels for the zone system, why are they not taped to the key unit's at outlying stations? I've also seen people tap their credit cards in confusion on the machines at stations because they are on and active even though they aren't in use

8. Where are the TVM's at any outlying station besides the big four? They have rolled out the keycard things at all stations I think, plus the new parking modules.

9. What will become of the station attendants? I assume reassignment but that might create union problem's.

10. Will conductors be given a unit to validate the system or is this going to be reliant on the turnstiles at the end?
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby Head-end View » Fri May 11, 2018 8:12 pm

I haven't been to 30th St. since last November. Where are the turnstiles installed? Are they in the Regional Rail concourse or up on the platforms?
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby ekt8750 » Sat May 12, 2018 11:42 am

Head-end View wrote:I haven't been to 30th St. since last November. Where are the turnstiles installed? Are they in the Regional Rail concourse or up on the platforms?


Judging by the pictures in the article linked a couple posts ago, they look like they're right up against the stairwells that lead to the platform. I guess their intention was not to gate off the merchants that are in that area but what they ended up doing was limiting the egress to the platforms.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby JeffK » Sat May 12, 2018 2:06 pm

ChesterValley wrote:I was reading comments on a post to another place and some readers brought up good points.

Answering what I can, admittedly limited and somewhat cynical

1. What's going to happen when the train changes tracks at 30th?

Supposedly an entrance and an exit at the same station within a certain period of time will be recorded as a "cancel". However I haven't seen anything definite in writing for several months.

3. What happens when someone can't get though the turnstile because their pass malfunctioned? Will there be back ups on the stairs?

I think we can bet on it. Other systems with turnstiles (e.g. DC Metro) can obstensively have the same issue but their layouts generally aren't as cramped as what SEPTA's come up with.

5. If this system is so good as jamesinclair mentioned, why is Boston moving toward PoP?

After re-reading james' posts I think he's pretty sour on it, and was saying that the Key is good only in SEPTA's collective mind. They have a long history of falling into the "not invented here" trap; with the Key they got themselves so far into the tar-pit that they were unwilling/unable to stop once serious problems began to surface. It's hard to say whether they'll eventually give up as Boston has, but my guess is that they'll fall into the next trap of citing sunk costs and press onward.

6. Why is passenger comfort taking a backseat to fare evasion? SEPTA is aiming for a C or D! WHY!? How does this encourage ridership?

There's ZERO rational explanation. Like "not invented here", SEPTA's historical focus has been almost exclusively on minimizing fare evasion rather than maximizing the number of paying passengers. A couple of years ago I spoke with a couple of planners who told me (off the record, of course) that the atmosphere at 1234 was almost paralyzed by fear that any substantive change to the fare structure would result in increased leakage. That obsession is at the core of the decision to design the Key as an electronic replica of the current fare patchwork dating back to the PRT rather than starting with a clean(er) slate.

7. What is being done to reduce confusion about the mesh of systems, multiple times I've had to explain the zone system and the key. There are no real labels for the zone system, why are they not taped to the key unit's at outlying stations? I've also seen people tap their credit cards in confusion on the machines at stations because they are on and active even though they aren't in use.

See #6 :(

8. Where are the TVM's at any outlying station besides the big four? They have rolled out the keycard things at all stations I think, plus the new parking modules.

Rollout is going to be slow and incomprehensibly, only about 2/3 of the stations will have any form of TVM. That locks riders at those stations into the current lunacy of having to go elsewhere to buy a ticket or pay the #$%! on-board surcharge, which btw is NOT going away even if you pay electronically. It also locks conductors into having to process multiple payment methods - cash as before, along with credit cards and mobiles.

10. Will conductors be given a unit to validate the system or is this going to be reliant on the turnstiles at the end?

#8 means they'll need something on-board, to account for riders who may both board and leave at stations without validators.

For SEPTA's "ideal" riders (i.e. Key holders going to a major station) the Key should be a fairly decent improvement. For everyone else - i.e. the people SEPTA should be working to attract - I expect this is going to be a massive CF.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby ChesterValley » Sat May 12, 2018 2:55 pm

I was at the Phillies game yesterday and seeing everyone go though the turnstiles was a mess. SEPTA had to deploy extra key card fare trucks to handle the load of people putting in cash for quick trips
Several observations I noted at PAT&Tison.

1.There was a large back up of people swiping their passes multiple times. Wither that was a failure of the system or of the person swiping is another issue. I've seen metro-cards have similar issues so I'm not going to blame SEPTA entirely. In addition SEPTA having a several systems working is extraordinarily frustrating. People are tapping on the screen quick trips, others were scanning the key in the barcode thing. London Underground handles this better by far.

2. SEPTA Key does not support pass-back. I handed two friends of mine my key which had 4 rides on it but only one could use the card. I figured they would disable pass-back for a monthly pass, but for one with multiple trips loaded on it? This seems like they are trying to force everyone to get a key (with a surcharge), not one group leader with one pass

Overall the key system for regular passengers, SEPTA's ideal 9-5 rider, is excellent. The system is fast from what I've seen, you can supposedly load your card online and potentially recover you lost pass. But for the occasional rider this is going to be a mess, I can't just buy quick trips for my friends I have to have a key card. If I have more than one person visiting, we have to get multiple Key's or just grab the Independence pass which does not scan.

Where I am also confused is the high ridership between stations on the Paoli line. There are no turnstiles only validators how is SEPTA going to enforce fare payment on that line short of yelling at people to tap?

How exactly is this system an improvement?
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby bikentransit » Sat May 12, 2018 9:10 pm

I'm not surprised to hear this is turning into a classic SEPTA CF. Those of you that know me know I'm critical of SEPTA for their choices and priorities, and I've been blasted for it in the past, but Key is a classic example of SEPTA's poor planing and thinking that wastes scarce resources. While fare collection needed updating, what they spent could have partially restored rail service on the branchline of your choice.

From what I've read here and other places Key has:
- Not done anything to reduce fare evasion: The new excuse for bus riders is "I just put money on it! I swear!!!". And from the previous post it sounds like Key not eliminate fare evasion (or uncollected fares) on heavily packed trains with many short trips outside center city.
(side note: What is going to happen with riders on overcrowded trains for "special events" like flower show, etc, where the majority of riders are cash pay and the conductor doesn't get to them before center city? It won't be intentional fare evasion, but if no one gives them an exit pass, SEPTA will need to have permanent staff in center city to collect the fare at Market East, etc and provide egress to those riders)
- Not simplified fare collection on the train which would permit the reduction of fare collectors on the train
- Made group travel more difficult requiring every rider to have their own card/quick trip unlike the ease of using tokens
- Not eliminated paper transfers on the city/suburban routes meaning there is no reduction in the cost of fare collection, in fact with Key, the cost has now gone up.

The only thing Key seems to have accomplished is convert transpass riders into Key riders, meaning they pay at the time of travel instead of paying all up front at the time the fare instrument is purchased. Not bad for $300 million.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby bikentransit » Sun May 13, 2018 9:07 pm

A few other points:
1.There is no such thing as a Quick Trip. It takes longer than the rush hour El/BSL headway to get a ticket. It should be called Frankly I'm A Slow Card Option, or FIASCO for short.

2. None of this system, nor any other fixed-price fare replacement system, will ever be better than tokens. Tokens were currency, plain and simple:
"Top eight qualities of an ideal money material are:
1. General Acceptability 2. Portability 3. Indestructibility or Durability 4. Homogeneity 5. Divisibility 6. Malleability 7. Cognizability 8. Stability of Value!"
At best, the new systems remove some of the "currency" features of the old systems, such as the no-sharing rules.
It's not a matter of being convinced or not. It is simply less functional than before. The convincing is about whether the loss of functionality was intentional, whether it was all that important, etc.

3. My father (a senior) got his photo for the senior key card in February. He's still waiting for it. Supposedly, SEPTA lost his and many other applications (btw which had sensitive information on them like SSN's). ClusterF&$k.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby ChesterValley » Mon May 14, 2018 12:27 pm

I've taken the liberty of swinging by market east and I've noticed that they have fare machines on each of the platforms and another set inside and outside of the fare gates, just like how it's done in 30th street and Suburban station. I suspect that is also the case at University city and Temple university, but I can not personally verify it since I haven't visited there.

I found a article from January that answers some of my questions, http://planphilly.com/articles/2018/01/ ... -questions

According to the article a group pass is in the works "Should be up and running by the end of the year"

Also this concerned me,

Like the villain in a Dickens novel, SEPTA’s had a lot of trouble with “orphan” transactions — taps that don’t immediately register because the bus or trolley is effectively in a cellular dead zone. Unlike most other transit fare systems, Key is account-based, not card-based. That means all transactions need to connect to a central database through the internet. Around four percent of transit taps were orphaned transactions in 2017, but Burnfield says SEPTA reduced the frequency over the course of the year.


We will not have a low balance notification for the key.

Unlike most other cities’ transit fare systems, SEPTA Key does not tell passengers how much money they have on their account when they use it. And the transit agency has no plans to change that at this time.

“We’ll have to look at that in the future, if it’s feasible,” says O’Brien. “We’re not saying we’re not going to do it, but it’s not in the works right now.”


By the sounds of it, SEPTA is trying to get things rolling on deployment. There are also notices at Market East that they will move collections up the stairs to the turnstiles.

30th Street has yet to have the gates fully mounted yet. The machines are there but the cattle chutes aren't in place. I've also noted they only installed them on one side in the lower concourse. I'm still scratching my head on how this will work. That means there are roughly 20 gates to process how many people? Suburban and Market East have a clear enough paid non-paid area, but 30th Street is winding up to be a major problem
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby bikentransit » Mon May 14, 2018 5:21 pm

The lack of local data storage on key terminals is its Achilles heel. If the internet has a bad day, everyone rides free. Outside of that, it still isn't 100% on buses & trolleys. I've seen many hit the turnstile arm because of the delay with the new card, so it is much slower than the old mag strip transpasses or tokens.

Not providing balance information will cause frustration as well. I'm not sure why it would take the moving of mountains to make that possible. A modern system can't send a text message or email when the balance hits a certain level? Interesting.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby nomis » Tue May 15, 2018 7:20 pm

The stairs on the west side of the concourse at 30th Street as well as the elevators will be fare gated on the platform level, not the concourse level.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby MACTRAXX » Thu May 17, 2018 8:59 am

Everyone:

Found this 5/8 Phillymag article about SEPTA possibly eliminating transfer fees:
Writer: Joe Trinacria

https://www.phillymag.com/news/2018/05/ ... sfer-fees/

With ridership decreasing on buses in particular along with increased competition from services
such as Uber and Lyft SEPTA is studying how ending transfer charges could increase ridership.

Let's see if rational thinking on this subject prevails over keeping this regressive $1 charge...

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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby JimBoylan » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:27 pm

JimBoylan wrote:I don't know what this means, but my local Shop Rite supermarket of Knorr St. will not sell S.E.P.T.A. tokens and passes after May 31. They won't sell June passes at all, and will stop selling tokens earlier if they run out of inventory. This was their May 1 story.
I just found tha the Giant supermarket at 2550 E. Grant Ave. sells the June unlimited monthly S.E.P.T.A pass. However, Shop Rite of Knorr St. confirms that they are out of the S.E.P.T.A. business.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby dcipjr » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:59 am

I was in 30th Street the other day; those faregates are going to be a nightmare.
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby JeffK » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:00 am

SEPTA's now adding more hoops for senior riders as well: http://www.septa.org/fares/discount/seniors-ride-free-info.html

If I'm interpreting the page correctly, once existing (pre-2018) driver's licenses have been phased out the only acceptable form of ID will be a Senior Key. Bottom line, anyone who's not from the 5-country region will have a lot of difficulty obtaining a Senior Key. Does this mean someone from say Reading or Harrisburg who comes into Philly will have to pay a full fare even if they're over 65, unless they somehow managed to get a Key in advance? Since reduced-fare rides are funded by the PA Lottery which is statewide, are there any political or legal implications from SEPTA imposing a de facto impediment on non-local seniors even if they're PA residents? Given that funding's state-based I can justify excluding out-of-state seniors, but "out-of-region"?
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Re: SEPTA NPT card will be "SEPTA Key"?

Postby ChesterValley » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:52 am

Here is a picture of the turnstile gates at 30th: https://imgur.com/a/ZJCYGIz

As for deployment, SEPTA has posted notices that they will move fare payment collections up to the turnstiles at Suburban on Monday June 4th and Market East stations.

PATCO is testing a new freedom card to be compatible with the key, this has been discussed in other board posts. It appears this was prompted by SEPTA no longer issuing paper transfers effective August 1st eliminating the transfer discount altogether for non-key riders.
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