Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is New Payment Technologies?
A: New Payment Technologies or NPT is SEPTA's new automated electronic fare payment system that will replace magnetic cards, paper tickets and metal tokens. The new system allows direct fare payment with a variety of contactless credit or debit cards, contactless government benefit cards, contactless ID cards, NFC-enabled phones and other devices.
Q: Will the NPT system use new equipment to collect fares?
A: Yes. You will see new electronic equipment on SEPTA buses, trolleys and in stations. Fareboxes, turnstiles, and regional rail stations will have a new electronic target called a reader. All subway-elevated stations and Center City regional rail stations will also have new fare vending machines. Stations with turnstiles will also be equipped with a wider ADA compliant gate.
Q: How do I pay fares under the NPT system?
A: You will pay fares by tapping a contactless card against the electronic target as you enter stations or board vehicles. The contactless cards contain a computer chip that communicates with the target using radio signals. Riders may also choose to pay fares with debit or credit cards or cell phones that carry a contactless chip.
Q: Will it take longer for me to pay my fare in the new system?
A. No, the time period will be the same as today.
Q: Where can I get a contactless card?
A. In addition to debit and credit cards, contactless cards for NPT will be sold as in the form of a pre-paid card available from local retail stores, fare vending machines, and SEPTA sales locations.
Q: How do I purchase a weekly or monthly pass?
A. Your contactless card becomes the same as a weekly or monthly pass after adding value. You may add or subtract value to the account via the internet, telephone, vending machines, retail stores or SEPTA sales location. When you tap your contactless card to ride SEPTA, the NPT system will recognize the account and allow entry. You may also choose to automatically replenish your account by linking it to a bank account or credit card.
Q: Will I have to purchase a new card each week or month?
A. No, chip-based cards will typically be usable for five years. Customers can choose auto-load of passes or value through the customer support website, or make purchases via telephone, at SEPTA vending machines, at SEPTA sales offices or at one of more than 1,200 reload merchants throughout the SEPTA service area.
Q: How can I check the balance in my transit account?
A. You will have options for checking and managing your account 24/7. Riders may access the NPT web site, the telephone call center, or stop by any SEPTA sales location.
Q: Can I still use tokens and paper transfers in the new system?
A. The NPT system will not accept metal tokens and paper transfers. Instead, riders will use a pre-paid card from which they can add value to an account and replenish as needed.
Q: What happens if I lose my pre-paid card?
A: You will have the option of registering the card with SEPTA and this protects you from lost or stolen cards. You would then simply inform the NPT Customer Service Representative of the problem and the card would be replaced.
Q: Can I still pay fares with cash?
A: You may still use cash on board SEPTA buses and trolleys. Cashiers will no longer accept cash and tokens and will not issue transfers. Vending machines will be available at all subway-elevated stations.
Q: How will NPT system accommodate fares for senior citizens and disabled riders?
A. SEPTA and Penn DOT will issue special fare products to accommodate these constituencies, as needed. Reduced and free fares will continue to be available.
Q: How will the new system accommodate a personal care attendant?
A. Personal care attendants would continue to travel with riders having mobility impairments and registered with the NPT system.
Q: How will NPT accommodate employer transit programs such as RideECO?
A. Participants in RideECO (formerly TransitChek) will have benefits electronically stored on their account and may use a variety of NPT compliant cards.
Q: When will New Payment Technologies be implemented?
A. SEPTA awarded a contract to Xerox in November 2011 to design, manufacture, install and initially operate the NPT system. The project is now moving out of the design phase with equipment prototypes beginning to undergo rigorous testing to ensure longevity. A small number of readers have already been installed on-board SEPTA buses and trolleys. By Fall 2014, riders will begin to see the installation of new turnstiles and vending equipment at subway-elevated stations. Next winter, passengers will begin the transition to new fare media as all subway-elevated stations, buses and trolleys will be outfitted with new equipment. Regional Rail and CCT will be transitional during mid-2014.
Q: How will NPT coordinate ticketing and transfer policies among NJ Transit, PATCO, and DelDOT?
A. Each carrier is responsible for establishing their own fare and pricing policies. SEPTA is working with other agencies having older, legacy systems.
Q: How will student passes be handled?
A. NPT welcomes a compliant school identification card and any third party cards meeting contactless, bank card standards.
Q: Will parking permits be handled within the fare system? Will there be weekly/monthly parking within the fare system?
A. New parking payment equipment will be rolled out during 2014.
Q: How will I know when the fare systems switch?
A. The first NPT phase will be rolled out beginning in late 2013 to SEPTA bus, trolley and subway transit. As the first phase continues to roll out, pilot tests for Regional Rail are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2014. Rail customers will see the payment technology systems in mid-2014. SEPTA's specialized customer services teams will be onsite to help rail riders purchase fares. CCT and parking payment stations will be rolled out during 2014 as well. To help make the transition seamless, informational kiosks and a specialized team of employees will be stationed at key sites and available to answer questions and demonstrate how to use the new fare systems. Customers will be informed of the new options for purchasing transit fare where you normally buy your pass, tokens, Regional Rail ticket, etc. During the transition passengers will be able to use both old and new fare types.
Q: What do I do with unused tokens when I can't use them anymore?
A. New turnstiles will not accept tokens. Individual tokens will be accepted by vending machines for either a single ride or towards the purchase of another fare product.
Q: Do I have to use the new technology?
A. Yes, all riders must use the NPT system. It's our goal to help customers with the transition and ensure riders are comfortable using the technology.
Q: How does the technology connect to my phone? Do I need a smart phone or web-based phone?
A. New mobile devices are quickly transitioning to include embedded smart chips. As the NPT system is rolled out you will initially be able to access the NPT Customer Support site for inquiries, purchases and checking values using a web-based application or with a phone call. As the system evolves smart phones and devices with smart chips will be read directly by readers on turnstiles and fareboxes.
Q: How do I get the new technology added to my credit card or debit card?
A. The United States is the last remaining country where credit cards do not contain an embedded smart chip. The transition to chip-based cards in the United States is underway and will be rolled out on a calendar similar to the NPT project schedule. Debit cards will likely follow a similar transition.
Q: Will someone be there to help me to purchase or use the new payment system?
A. Yes, to help make the transition seamless, informational kiosks and a specialized team of employees will be stationed at key sites and available to answer questions and demonstrate how to use the new fare systems. There will also be a new Customer Support group available by phone or web to answer questions and handle purchases.