PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - It's the end of an era for SEPTA. The transit authority will no longer sell tokens after Monday, April 30, instead moving forward with a digital key card.
The general public will be able to continue using tokens for an undetermined amount of time. But, this is the next step toward phasing them out completely.
SEPTA is replacing the tokens with key cards. These are reloadable, plastic cards that a person hovers over the face of devices as one walks on to a bus or trolley, or when people pass through the entrance of a subway.
Regular bus, trolley or subway riders will want to get a SEPTA key card before Friday, May 4, as the key card is free until May 4. Beginning Friday, the card itself will cost $4.95, though if the card is loaded within 30 days, that will be applied to future rides.
"Friends, they love it, honestly. They think it is much better and they laugh because I pay cash every time I want to go up and down," said Mary King.
"I'm a really forgetful person. I lose everything, so I just think it's easier cause you don't have to worry about losing your tokens. I can just put it in my wallet," Leina Betzer said.
People can exchange tokens to load up a key card. Or, people can just use their tokens for the time being.
"I don't like carrying cash. And, tokens, they just jingle in your pocket. So, it's easier, to me," Gregory Postel explained.
Not everyone is on board. Chris Foreman said when a person is carrying a token, there's no worrying about account balances.
"With tokens, if you got three tokens, you get three rides. There's no questioning it. With any other system, you can run out at any time," Foreman said.
SEPTA does have automatic payment options when a balance gets low. The key card can be loaded with as little as five dollars and one can even add money for non-SEPTA purchases, to use like a debit card.
SEPTA says the tokens taken out of circulation will be melted down and sold for scrap.
"We have a similar one in Tokyo and you can just start to use it for convenience stores and taxis and stuff like that. I think the only thing would be nostalgia and having those coins, but other than that, I don't think there's any downside to it," Jennifer Higa said.
SEPTA started selling the tokens back in 1968 to school kids for ten cents a ride. The tokens went on sale to the general public in 1977 at 45 cents a ride.
Tokens don't directly impact Regional Rail riders. However, a new schedule will begin April 30. Changes have been made in the weekday schedule, so Regional Rail riders will want to check with SEPTA regarding any schedule changes.
For more information on the key cards, click here.