Penn Medicine, Drexel, Wawa to offer free SEPTA Key cards to employees

Eligible employees will be able to start using the pre-loaded free passes on May 1, SEPTA officials said.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- SEPTA is partnering with Penn Medicine, Drexel University and Wawa to provide free monthly passes to thousands of eligible employees as transit officials try to increase ridership to pre-pandemic levels.

Officials said this is a huge partnership with some of the region's biggest employers.

Workers will be able to utilize all of SEPTA's public transportation services for free, including Regional Rail, under the six-month pilot program.

The "SEPTA Key Advantage" pass would normally cost each rider just over $200 a month.

Eligible employees will be able to start using the pre-loaded free passes on May 1, SEPTA officials said.

"SEPTA is thrilled to launch this exciting new program, which will provide real benefits for people working in our city and region," said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie Richards. "This has the potential to provide a significant boost in ridership, which is critical to ensuring that SEPTA can sustain and grow service as we recover from the pandemic."

The latest data from February shows that the number of SEPTA riders is still only about half of what it was before the pandemic, but the percentage is continuing to rise.

"Penn Medicine's employees are deeply invested in our collective efforts to be strong stewards of the environment, from our green-building initiatives to supporting our workforce and visitors with tools that support more eco-friendly transit, including bike racks and electric vehicle charging stations," said University of Pennsylvania Health System CEO Kevin B. Mahoney. "We are proud to be an employer of choice in Philadelphia and a longtime collaborator with SEPTA leaders, which has enabled us to bring to life our shared vision of creative new programs to support our employees who use public transportation."

Officials said a hope with the new program is that everyone in the region will benefit in some way with less traffic and more open parking spots in areas around hospitals.

"Participating in this pilot program aligns with Drexel's ongoing commitment to improving sustainability practices at the University and being part of the solution to climate change," said Drexel University President John Fry. "As one of the largest private employers in the region, we recognize the substantial impact that we could make by providing additional support to eligible employees who wish to take public transit through this pathbreaking partnership with SEPTA."

SEPTA officials said similar programs like the new partnership to offer free passes have helped increase ridership in other cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

"We are honored that SEPTA turned to us to participate alongside Drexel and Penn Medicine in SEPTA's Key Advantage pilot program, as we are always looking for ways to take care of our associates and make a positive impact in our community," said Wawa Sr. Director of Store Operations Dave Simonetti. "We value the public transportation system and are proud to play a role in bolstering the recovery from the pandemic."
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