SEPTA to award contract for new fare system

SEPTA is expected to approve a contract for its new payment technology today at a special board meeting.

The special meeting will follow the agency’s regularly scheduled meeting at 3 p.m. Three vendors are in the running for the contract, which is worth more than $100 million. The new fare system is expected to finally eliminate tokens and paper transfers and bring SEPTA into the 21st Century by allowing riders to pay with debit cards and other contactless technology, such as cell phones and ID cards.

One question that still remains is how the system will be implemented on the Regional Rail side. SEPTA’s proposed one-way fare collection, which would require riders boarding or de-boarding in Center City to go through turnstiles, has raised concerns among transit advocates who claim SEPTA would lose money from riders not traveling to Center City.

SEPTA has said it will continue to study the Regional Rail structure even after a contract is awarded and that it will likely be the last mode to get the new fare system.

For buses, trolleys, subways and the Market-Frankford El, card readers will be updated to accept the new forms of payment. Installation is expected to take at least two years.

SEPTA originally expected to award the contract last year, but delayed it due to a lack of funding. This year, the agency borrowed $175 million from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Corp. to pay for the technology.

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