Discussion Paper

The electronification of transit fare payments: a look at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's New Payment Technologies Project

Abstract: Over the past decade many of the nation's largest public transit providers have gone from fare-payment systems based on cash and coin to more modern electronic systems that implement payment cards, including agency-issued prepaid cards, credit cards, and debit cards. On September 16, 2008, the Payment Cards Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia hosted a workshop to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) as it attempts to redesign its transit-fare payment system to accept payment cards. Jerry Kane, manager of SEPTA's New Payment Technologies Project, led the workshop. This paper summarizes Kane's presentation and the ensuing discussion. In addition, this paper offers some thoughts on why the modernization of transit-fare payment systems has begun around the country; what obstacles still stand in the way of using credit, debit, and prepaid cards to pay fares; and what this movement means for consumer payments generally.

Keywords: Payment systems; Credit cards; Debit cards; Transportation;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Part of Series: Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers

Publication Date: 2009

Number: 09-02