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March 16, 2023

Small businesses now can buy SEPTA Key cards to be given as employee perks

The transit authority has expanded its program that allows employers to purchase discounted monthly passes for workers

Transportation SEPTA
SEPTA Key Advantage Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Under SEPTA's Key Advantage program, small businesses now can purchase discounted monthly transit passes to be given to employees for free. The program began as a test last spring.

The SEPTA program that encourages employers to purchase monthly transit passes for their workers is now open to small businesses. 

As part of the Key Advantage program, businesses purchase discounted Key cards and distribute them their employees for free. It launched last spring with a trio of participants – Wawa, Drexel University and Penn Medicine – before expanding in July to include any business with at least 50 employees.

Now, employers with less than 50 workers can join. Companies can enroll as early as April 1 to receive May passes. 

The monthly passes – which allow riders to travel on any SEPTA mode – will cost employers $28 per month to start. By contrast, SEPTA charges $204 for its monthly Anywhere Trail Pass, which provides the same access. 

Under a city law that took effect in January, businesses with at least 50 employees must offer commuter benefits to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. The businesses must provide preloaded Key cards or allow employees to have their monthly mass transit costs deducted from their pay before taxes. 

Since the law took effect, FMC Corporation, HealthVerity, ABC Senior Care and Livent have joined the Key Advantage program, SEPTA said. Additionally, Wawa and Penn Medicine have expanded their participation in the program, which is now available to more than 30,000 workers. 

Under Mayor Jim Kenney's budget proposal, all city employees would be offered free Key cards through the Key Advantage program. The city employs about 23,000 full-time workers. City Council must approve a budget by June 30.

"This revolutionary initiative is already proving to increase ridership at partnering institutions and bolster an inclusive recovery for the region," SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards said.

SEPTA wants to add a similar program involving universities, called the UPass, this fall. The transit authority is also interested in partnering with local landlords to offer passes to tenants.