SEPTA Key Advantage Update: Applications are Open

There’s some exciting news for large-sized employers in the Philadelphia region who are committed to sustainability, interested in returning to the office, focused on reducing demand for parking, or wanting to offer additional benefits to their employees after a tough couple of years: the SEPTA Key Advantage application is open!

For those who may not have heard about SEPTA’s latest initiative, Key Advantage is new way to purchase fare products. Employers sign up for the program and commit to offering an unlimited transit pass to all their employees—regardless of whether or not they currently ride SEPTA. By spreading the cost of transit across a much larger population of people, Key Advantage passes can offer passes as a much, much lower cost-per-person.

While the average cost of transit for Philadelphians is around $70 per month, Key Advantage costs less than a dollar per day for an all-access pass that can be used on any mode, at any time. Employers can choose to fully-subsidize this cost, or they can choose to cost-share with employees via a pre-tax payroll deduction.

In May, the agency launched a pilot for the Key Advantage program. Our team has been working with SEPTA and the three pilot partners (Penn Medicine, Drexel University, and Wawa) to work through the development of a permanent version of the program. The Key Advantage program was presented to the SEPTA Board during their annual operating budget hearing and was approved by the Board on June 23.

The program will first be available to businesses with 500 or more eligible employees, while SEPTA continues to build capacity to manage Key Advantage. Later this year, any company with at least 50 employees will be able to register for Key Advantage. By early 2023, we hope to make this program available to all employers in the region. (Even if you’re not quite eligible yet, please still fill out the application! We’ll be in touch with more details as the program expands.)

The long-term vision for Key Advantage isn’t to just be an employee benefit, though. Our team is actively working with SEPTA and other stakeholders to expand the program to colleges and universities, landlords, developers, and even business districts. In other cities, unlimited access passes, like Key Advantage, have been shown to increase ridership and improve access to economic and educational opportunities, while at the same time reducing traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation costs.

As a firm focused on the economic vitality of the Philadelphia region, we couldn’t be more excited for the positive impacts Key Advantage can have in the region.


Tiffany Hudson | [email protected]

Tiffany Hudson is a senior analyst at ESI. Ms. Hudson provides expertise in economic development, marketing strategies, infrastructure planning, as well as business and government strategies. Her experience dates back to 2013 when she was a sales analyst and category manager for Kao, USA. Ms. Hudson has 8 years of professional experience in project management, data analysis, client management, spatial analysis, design thinking, and strategic planning.

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