The future of SEPTA fares and what it could become

Not that I'm a big fan of using my cellphone on public transportation, but the days of cash and tokens on a SEPTA bus, train or trolley are numbered.

Then again, I never thought I'd use my phone to pay for a coffee either.

The biggest thing that interests me about a new payment technology being used on public transportation is the proposed efficiency of the system. When I worked downtown many years ago, I longed for the days I could swipe my debit card for my fare instead of doing the pesky cash-to-farecard conversion weekly or monthly. I have to say that the idea of simply linking an application on my phone to a payment method of my choosing has me tickled.

There hasn't been a whole lot of talk about what such an application might look like. Considering that NFC-enabled phones have yet to hit the market in mass numbers, I imagine an app would consist of something similar to what Starbucks offers - using a digitized barcode to read payment information securely.

I would also like to see some other functionality built into the application, not just a single-purpose app used for payments. Say for example I want to report a problem with a SEPTA train (the notorious 'stuck door' on the El for example) or a suspicious group of teenagers hanging around a bus stop? I should be able to report such incidents with a SEPTA application. I should also - finally - be able to check the schedule of trains, buses and trolleys on any route accurately. Granted, there are services like Skookul and iOS applications by third-party developers that will provide the same information, however, if I'm going to have an app set for a particular purpose I want a one-stop shop application that will do it all for me. I'd rather flip a tab then app surf over multiple screens on my iPhone to get the information I need. To heck with 'it's not productive', it's a downright pain in the ass.

Not that I'm a big fan of using my cellphone on public transportation, but give me an app like that and I just might ride SEPTA more.

Source: SEPTA plans to have 386 smart-card equipped turnstiles by spring 2014 ยป Philly