SEPTA Student Fare Card FAQs for Schools and Parents

1. What is a SEPTA Student Fare Card?

  • The SEPTA Student Fare Card is a contact-free chipped card that is used by eligible students to board a SEPTA trolley, bus, and subway from 5:30 am to 8:00 pm. The SEPTA Student Fare Card will replace the Weekly Student Transpass.

2. Why is the Department of Transportation Services moving from the weekly Transpass to the SEPTA Student Fare Card?

  • SEPTA is in the process of phasing out Transpass technology and equipment at all stations. The Department of Transportation Services must adapt to SEPTA’s new platform.

3. What are the benefits of the SEPTA Student Fare Card?

  • Students will be issued a SEPTA Student Fare Card. As the student remains eligible and enrolled in the same school, the card can be utilized for the entire school year. The SEPTA Student Fare Card can also be utilized for multiple years if the student remains eligible and enrolled at the same school.
SEPTA Student TranspassSEPTA Student Fare Card
Delivered to schools monthlyDelivered to schools annually or as needed
Distributed to students weeklyDistributed annually or as needed
Disposable laminated cardReusable plastic card
Transpass has an assigned monetary value when delivered to the schoolsThe Fare Card has a limited monetary value until assigned to an eligible student by the school and activated by SEPTA
An unused Transpass must be returned monthly to the Department of Transportation An unused Fare Card can be stored and assigned to eligible students as needed

4. How will the Department of Transportation notify families about the SEPTA Student Fare Card?

  • The Department of Transportation Services will send letters to the families of students who are currently eligible for transpass.

5. When can the SEPTA Student Fare Card be used?

  • The SEPTA Student Fare Card is active for each designated school day from the hours of 5:30 am to 8:00 pm.
    SEPTA Student Fare Cards will not be operational on national holidays, weekends, and predetermined non-school days.

6. What is a “Tap?”

  • A tap is SEPTA’s term for accessing transportation.  It is a contactless way of accessing transportation and recording the transaction using the SEPTA Student Fare Card.
  • Students “Tap” their SEPTA Student Fare Card at the platform or turnstile validator as they board each mode of transportation. This opens the trip.
  • Each SEPTA Student Fare Card is programmed with a maximum of eight taps per day.
    • School officials should notify the Department of Transportation Services regarding any student who requires more than eight daily taps.

7. How is the SEPTA Student Fare Card upgraded for use on Regional Rail?

  • Students can upgrade SEPTA Student Fare Card services to include Regional Rail transportation by paying a nominal fee associated with the number of school days for the week.
    • The cost of the SEPTA Student Fare Card is approximately $10 per week.
  • Upgrades are available for purchase between Wednesday of the prior week, through Tuesday of the school week the service is needed.
  • Students can take their SEPTA Student Fare Card to a designated SEPTA station and upgrade to add Regional Rail services to the Fare Card electronically.
    • Designated SEPTA stations are:
      • Suburban Station (16th Street and JFK Boulevard)
      • Jefferson Station – Section A (12th and Filbert Sts.)
      • 30th Street Station (30th & Market Sts, Train Terminal)
      • Temple University Station (10th & Berks St.)
      • Olney Sales Office (Broad St. & Olney Ave.)
      • FTC Sales Office (Bridge St. & Frankford Ave.)
      • 15th St. Sales Office (15th & Market Sts.)
      • Headquarters Sales Office (1234 Market St.)
      • 69th St. Sales Office (69th & Market Sts.)
  • At the end of each school week, the Regional Rail services will expire and the Student Fare Card will revert to the standard card.

8. Who will be responsible for SEPTA Student Fare Card management?

  • Each participating school will identify a point person who will be responsible for managing the SEPTA Student Fare Card. The point person will be responsible for assigning and distributing the SEPTA Student Fare Card to students, and reporting issues to the Department of Transportation Services.

9. Will the schools need to share a letter with parents informing them of the SEPTA Student Fare Card?

  • Schools will receive a communication package that includes a letter that may be shared with all families.
  • The Department of Transportation will also send parents a letter with details of the SEPTA Student Fare Card.

10. What does the school do with the SEPTA Student Fare Cards when they are delivered?

  • Similar to the weekly transpasses, each school needs to securely store their SEPTA Student Fare Card inventory until the cards have been assigned and distributed to students.

11.How should the school assign/distribute SEPTA Student Fare Cards to students?

  • School officials will be trained on the new SEPTA Student Fare Card application which allows them to assign individual SEPTA Student Fare Cards to students based on their transportation eligibility status.
  • Before the start of the school year, all SEPTA Student Fare Cards will be pre-loaded with an assigned temporary calendar with limited funding and distributed to schools.
  • At the start of the school year, a school official will pre-assign the SEPTA Student Fare Cards to all eligible students before distributing the cards. Those assigned SEPTA Student Fare Card numbers must later be entered in the SEPTA Student Fare Card Application for each student, by the school official. Please note, all assigned SEPTA Student Fare Card numbers must be entered in the SEPTA Student Fare Card Application by September 24th for the cards to remain active.
  • During the school year, SEPTA Student Fare Cards that have been assigned to students via the application, before 3 pm, will be sent to SEPTA for activation and should be active for the following school day.  Any card assigned to a student after the 3 pm cut-off will not become active until the following evening.
  • For all newer students enrolled in the school after September 24th, a Transportation Action Request (TAR) must be submitted in Compass by the school official. The new student’s assigned SEPTA Student Fare Card will become activated 3-4 days after the TAR has been processed. Please note, the TAR process can take up to 10 business days.

12. Will the school be issued weekly Transpasses?

  • No, the SEPTA Student Fare Cards replace weekly Transpasses. However, schools will also be provided with two-trip passes to use as a backup in case problems arise. Schools will need to manage and securely store the two-trip passes that have been issued.

13. How are students expected to get to school on the first day, if they won’t yet have their card?

  • No changes have been made to the existing process regarding transportation on the first day of school.
  • SEPTA will allow students to travel for free on August 31, 2021.

14. Will there be training for the schools about this change and how it works?

  • Schools will receive a package that includes a training video and stepper for the SEPTA Student Fare Card Application, a list of frequently asked questions, and a letter that may be shared with all families.
  • A slide is available for all schools on the Transportation Website at this link: https://www.philasd.org/transportation/septa-student-fare-card/

15. Will SEPTA Student Fare Card training occur before the start of school?

  • There will be virtual Q&A sessions on the following dates:
    • July 29, 2021
    • August 5, 2021
    • August 12, 2021
    • August 19, 2021

16. How is a SEPTA Student Fare Card activated?

  • To activate a SEPTA Student Fare Card the designated school official assigns the Fare Card number to an eligible student in the Fare Card Application.

17. What is the Fare Card Application?

  • The Fare Card Application is the program that manages the SEPTA Student Fare Card activities. The application is where school officials will assign each student their SEPTA Student Fare Card.

18. How do schools get access to the SEPTA Student Fare Card application?

  • The Department of Transportation Services is working with each school to determine who at their location requires access to the new Fare Card application.
  • The Fare Card application is accessible through the Single Sign-On screen.
  • Send an email to transpass@philasd.org to provide the school official’s contact information.

19. When will eligible students in Compass be listed in the SEPTA Student Fare Card application? 

  • This should occur 48 hours after a student is enrolled in the Student Information System (SIS) for SDP students.
  • The TAR may take 3-4 days to be processed through the Compass system for Charter and Non-Public students.
  • Schools will receive an allotment of SEPTA two-trip passes that they can use at their discretion to bridge any anticipated transportation delays.

20. How does a student ride in the afternoon when a SEPTA Student Fare Card is assigned that day, but not active until the next morning?  

  • At the start of the school year, all fare cards come preloaded with a limited monetary value to facilitate the school opening process. The cards can be used on SEPTA services during school opening before activation.
  • During the school year, schools will receive two-trip passes and can use them at their discretion to bridge any emergency transportation situations.

21. How does a school official know which students should receive SEPTA Student Fare Cards?

  • The Department of Transportation Services utilizes the Compass system to determine each student’s eligibility to receive free transportation services. Schools must update student information to reflect accurate card counts.
  • The new SEPTA Student Fare Card application only lists students who are eligible in Compass to receive a Student Fare Card.
  • No Compass processes/procedures will be modified due to the implementation of the SEPTA Student Fare Card system.

22. Will new SEPTA Student Fare Cards be needed for all students at the start of each school year?

  • Students who remain eligible for transportation services and are enrolled in the same school as the previous school year will be able to utilize their SEPTA Student Fare Card for the new school year.
  • Students who are enrolled in a new school from the previous school year will need to be re-evaluated for eligibility. If deemed eligible, those students will require a new SEPTA Student Fare Card assigned to them for the new school year.

23. Can a school official accidentally enter the same SEPTA Student Fare Card number for two different students?

  • No, the SEPTA Student Fare Card application does not allow the same SEPTA Student Fare Card number to be assigned to more than one student.

24. Can a school official enter an invalid SEPTA Student Fare Card number into the system?

  • No, the SEPTA Student Fare Card application only accepts Fare Card numbers that have been assigned to that school.

25. A school official assigned a student a SEPTA Student Fare Card and the card did not work. What are the next steps for the official?

  • Access the SEPTA Student Fare Card application and check that the SEPTA Student Fare Card number assigned to the student in the application matches the number on the SEPTA Student Fare Card given to the student.
    • If the numbers match, and the card is listed as active; either the school resource or the student needs to fill out the SEPTA Fare Card Issues Form.
      • Request that the student tries and use the SEPTA Student Fare Card again and provide the student a SEPTA two-trip pass just in case the card does not work.
      • If the SEPTA Student Fare Card again does not work, school resources should list the card as damaged and assign the student a new SEPTA Student Fare Card. The new SEPTA Student Fare Card should be active the next day.
    • If the number in the SEPTA Student Fare Card application does not match the student’s card, locate the assigned SEPTA Student Fare Card and give the student the correct SEPTA Student Fare Card.
    • Check the original SEPTA Student Fare Card given to the student in the SEPTA Student Fare Card application, to determine if it is unassigned. If it has not been assigned it can be put back into your inventory and used at a later time.
      • If it has been assigned to another student, you may have to contact the student and see if they are missing their SEPTA Student Fare Card or if there are any issues with their SEPTA Student Fare Card.

26. How is a SEPTA Student Fare Card deactivated?

  • A SEPTA Student Fare Card is deactivated when the student withdrawals from the attending school and/or the eligibility status is changed in Compass. The Compass system will remove that student from the SEPTA Student Fare Card Application, deactivating the card. Please note, for Non-Public schools, the student must be removed from Compass by the school official.

27. What happens when a SEPTA Student Fare Card is lost, stolen, or damaged?

  • Schools will be given an inventory and have the ability to distribute replacement cards to students who report their assigned SEPTA Student Fare Card as lost, stolen, or damaged.
  • Schools will need to report cards as lost, stolen, or damaged in the SEPTA Student Fare Card application. Reported cards will be sent to SEPTA weekly for deactivation.
  • After an assigned SEPTA Student Fare Card has been marked as lost, stolen, or damaged in the SEPTA Student Fare Card application, the school can assign a replacement card to the student, which will be active for the next school day.
  • The damaged Fare Card should be cut in half and properly disposed of by the school, it does not have to be returned to the Department of Transportation Services.
    Schools will be provided an allotment of SEPTA two-trip passes that they can use at their discretion to bridge any emergency transportation situations

28. When are SEPTA Student Fare Cards automatically deactivated?

  • The SEPTA Student Fare Card is deactivated when the following occurs;
    • An SDP student is withdrawn from the school in the School District’s Student Information System.
    • A Charter student is withdrawn from the school in the School District’s Student Information System’s Charter Module.
    • A Non-Public student is removed from the Compass system by the school official when the student has withdrawn from the school.
    • An SDP, Charter or Non-Public student is determined in the Compass system to no longer be eligible for free transportation services (i.e. change of address).

29. Will students be responsible for their assigned SEPTA Student Fare Card?

  • Yes, each student is responsible for their SEPTA Student Fare Card and expected to maintain the card for the duration of their time enrolled in the school.

30. How do students gain access to transportation if there is a problem with the SEPTA Student Fare Card and/or SEPTA hardware?  Will the operator permit them to ride?

  • Students can show the SEPTA Operator the SEPTA Student Fare Card and at the Operator’s discretion, the student may be permitted to access free transportation services.
  • Ridership issues should be reported by the student to the school as soon as possible.
  • Students should complete the SEPTA Student Fare Card Issue Tracking Form which is available on the SEPTA Student Fare Card website at the following link: www.philasd.org/transportation/septa-student-fare-card/

31. Will students have access to transportation if the SEPTA Student Fare Card was lost/forgotten?

  • The student will be responsible for getting to and from school that day.
  • Replacement cards should be issued at the school’s discretion.

32. Will there be resources for the parents to reference this change and how it works?

  • A slide deck will be available for all families on the Transportation Website at the link: www.philasd.org/transportation/septa-student-fare-card/

33. Is there anything students/families need to do from home to prepare for the program?

  • Addresses provided to the school are utilized to determine eligibility. Parents/families should communicate any address change to the school.

34. Will parents/guardians be given a SEPTA Student Fare Card to ride with their children to/from school?

  • No, SEPTA Student Fare Cards will only be issued to enrolled students who have been deemed eligible for transportation.

35. When will SEPTA Student Fare Cards be delivered to the schools? 

  • A delivery schedule will be posted on the Department of Transportation Services website on July 16, 2021, at the following link:
    www.philasd.org/transportation/septa-student-fare-card/

36. Is there a limited number of SEPTA Student Fare Cards a student is allowed per school year?

  • Distribution is at the school’s discretion.  Each school will receive an inventory of SEPTA Student Fare Cards responsible for managing and securely storing.

37. How many SEPTA Student Fare Cards will schools receive?

  • Schools will receive twice as many SEPTA Student Fare Cards as their total amount of eligible students.  Schools will be responsible to manage and securely store their inventory.

38. If students are attending summer programs through the school will the SEPTA Student Fare Cards be reactivated?

  • Please check back for updates. More information will be provided on this question by the Spring of 2022.

39. What will full-year programs do if the SEPTA Student Fare Cards are deactivated during the summer?

  • Please check back for updates. More information will be provided on this question by the Spring of 2022.

40. What holidays are blocked on all SEPTA Student Fare Cards?

  • In addition to published school holidays no SEPTA Student, Fare Card is operational on the dates below. If your school needs SEPTA Student Fare Cards activated for any of these dates, please have a school official send an email to transpass@philasd.org. Please review the school calendar for additional days that the SEPTA Student Fare Card is not operational.
    • 2021
      • Monday, September 6th – Labor Day
      • Thursday, November 25th – Thanksgiving
      • Friday, December 24th – Christmas (Observed**)
    • 2022
      • Monday, January 3rd – New Years Day
      • Monday, January 17th – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
      • Monday, February 21st – Presidents’ Day
      • Monday, May 30th – Memorial Day