Mobile ticketing with Mozio: Bringing SEPTA into the modern era


SEPTA Token

I don’t fly into Philadelphia all that often but I’ve done it enough to know that the process of catching a ride on SEPTA from the airport into town mostly sucks. Limited service frequency is one thing but the need to buy tickets from the conductor paying in cash really annoys me. Sure, that’s very #FirstWorldProblem but I still get annoyed by it. Fortunately, I no longer have to worry about that thanks to Mozio.

The startup launched its multi-modal ticketing iOS app (Android coming later this year) in Philadelphia and is featuring SEPTA service between PHL and downtown as part of its push into the market. The 6-month trial program launched last week and is a big boost for Mozio as the company looks to expand its ride booking & navigation platform. Earlier versions were light on mass transit integration making it less appealing to me; I don’t typically need 18 different ways to book a car service from a random airport. Of course, getting in to the mass transit market is rarely easy. Transit operators typically are restrictive on opening access to their systems and given budget challenges they are often unlikely candidates for paying out commissions. Still, the push to get “an app for that” in mass transit is very real and SEPTA is finally playing along, at least in a small way.

The pilot program covers travel between the airport and SEPTA’s five city center stations (University City, 30th Street, Suburban, Jefferson, and Temple). It only works for the purchase of single, one-way tickets, but the tickets sold are priced at $6.50, the discounted rate for advance purchase rather than the on-board $8 full fare. Hopefully the trial is sufficiently successful that the program can expand, though I’m not sure we’ll get from an app to tokens any time soon.

 

 

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

6 Comments

  1. As of April 17, you’ll also be able to use a credit card to buy a “quick trip” ticket at the fare kiosks they’ve set up at all the airport terminal stations. It’ll only be good one-way into Center City (still need to buy a ticket at a Center City ticket office for the return), but at least it’s a start. I’m embarrassed by my city every time I see some poor European tourist getting berated by a conductor for not having U.S. currency to buy a ticket after getting off their flight.

    1. Makes sense that they’d have an internal sales mechanism for such as well but I hadn’t seen confirmation of the kiosks yet. Thanks for that.

      And, yes, the on-board experience in those situations leaves much to be desired. 😮

  2. Still most impressed by Chicago’s transit system that uses standard credit card RFID (ie Apple Pay compatible) ticketing. Don’t even have to stop at a machine to buy a pass if you just want a simple one-way fare.

    1. SEPTA is in the process of introducing a similar system (http://www.septa.org/key/) and phasing out tokens and transfers. It will take a while for that system to be rolled out for the railroads for a variety of reasons, but the Airport line would seem to be an obvious line to start.

  3. Seth, fun to see an article about SEPTA on Boardingarea; and your perspective is useful to me as someone that holds a monthly pass, and thus doesn’t think about the process of buying one-use rides. Putting aside our 2 “subway” lines, i’ve always thought the rest of the train lines run too infrequently to be useful (except to folks like me on a routine clock-in/clock-out work schedule). it’s shame too, because they connect Center City to a TON of different places (there’s 14 heavy rail lines in total). i’d really like to see SEPTA spend on hiring more conductors/engineers, which would enable them to run more frequent, shorter trains. but i suppose upgrading the fare system is a nice investment too.

    1. As a New Yorker I’m well aware of the limitations our ticketing system presents, but I always appreciate that SEPTA stays further behind. 😉

      I’d love to see all of the rail lines increase in frequencies but I’m not sure where the money would come from for that.

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