The SEPTA/Diamond Dollar relationship a no-go

How would you like to hop on the subway, but instead of waiting in line to buy tokens, you just swipe your OwlCard?

There has been talk around campus that this is likely to happen, but although there have been conversations about it between Temple University and SEPTA, the rumors that students will be able to use Diamond Dollars with SEPTA are exactly that. As of now, the SEPTA/Temple relationship is a no go, which many students agree is a big disappointment.

Temple freshman Nick says, “That would be sweet, that’d be awesome. Because then I could just use my diamond dollars to pay for SEPTA. It would be that much easier, you wouldn’t have to worry about the hassle of waiting in line, getting tokens and everything.”

Scott Brannan is the director of Diamond Dollars at Temple University. Last year, Temple proposed the idea for the Diamond Dollar cards to be compatible with the new SEPTA machines that riders use to enter the platform. Users would be able to just swipe their OwlCards and be on their way.

“We discussed their new roll out of a system to be a con-tactless system and ours as well. That corresponded with our new OwlCards that were distributed about a year ago,” Brannan tells us.

SEPTA, however, decided to go with different machines that are not compatible with the chip that the OwlCard has. Because these particular OwlCards were brand new last year, it would be too expensive to change the chip inside.

“So we have to basically govern what we need on campus versus the SEPTA technology, and we decided that we would benefit a lot more students a lot sooner than SEPTA,” says Brannan. He adds, “So unfortunately that’s where we are at this point.”

There are many reasons students are using SEPTA.

“To Center City, it’s just a lot cheaper than taking the train,” says Kelsey Weigman, a Temple Senior.

Nick adds, “I take SEPTA to the stadiums, to the games a lot, almost every weekend.”

With the convenient form of transportation comes a not-so convenient way of paying. SEPTA is still using tokens for the subway, trolley and bus lines.

“It would just make it easier, and you wouldn’t have to go take out cash, before you get on the subway, which is always a pain,” said Lily Morreale. “And they don’t have change, so it sucks.”

Temple Update tried reaching out to SEPTA for a comment, but we have not yet heard back. There is, however, hope that the SEPTA/Temple relationship can try again in the future.

SEPTA is currently in the process of replacing their machines with their new ones. Although students won’t be able to use their OwlCards, the new system allows direct fare payment with a variety of contactless credit or debit cards, contactless government benefit cards, contactless ID cards, NFC-enabled phones and other devices. The system is expected to be completed by 2015.

 For any questions about how the new systems will work, visit the SEPTA New Payment Technology website.

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