At a press conference on Monday, August 28, 2023 - Mayor Kenney announced the City of Philadelphia will provide free transit benefits for all eligible City employees - approximately 22,000 - beginning Friday, September 1, 2023 via SEPTA Key Advantage. Only full-time and part-time employees - not temporary workers - are eligible for the benefit.
"As part of the City’s 2024 Fiscal Year budget - our Administration has proudly committed $9 million per year to join other large employers in the region participating in the SEPTA Key Advantage program and provide free transit to all eligible City employees,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This two-year pilot is an opportunity to boost the City’s hiring and retention efforts and support our goals of sustainability, traffic safety, and equity as well.”
SEPTA Key Advantage an employer-based, all-access employee benefit program that allows organizations/businesses/etc. to acquire SEPTA Key cards directly from the Authority and distribute them to their employees. Passes loaded through the SEPTA Key Advantage program can be used on all SEPTA modes - including Regional Rail, Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line, Norristown High Speed Line, CCT, buses, and trolleys.
“Throughout July and August - we have been signing employees up for the program and it has been overwhelmingly successful,” stated the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Tipton. “We want to thank our labor partners for working with us on extending this benefit to our represented employees as well. This benefit will encourage transit ridership and save employees money on their transit costs. It is a win-win for employees, SEPTA, and Philadelphia.”
Nearly 10,000 city employees have enrolled in the initiative since a recruitment campaign began last month. Workers received an email and the administration held 13 Key Card distribution events.
“We are thrilled the City has decided to extend the SEPTA Key Advantage transportation benefit to City employees,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “With the City's participation- close to 55,000 people are eligible for SEPTA Key Advantage at nearly two dozen institutions. Now in its second year - this revolutionary program is already helping SEPTA rebuild its ridership while bolstering an inclusive recovery for the region.”
Since launching last May - more than 3 million trips have been logged through Key Advantage and people who had a SEPTA Key card before enrolling in the program are now riding public transit 13% more often!
“The City’s participation in the Key Advantage program will reduce congestion, air pollution, and traffic crashes, all while putting a few extra dollars in the pockets of City workers. This program shows the City’s commitment to executing on the Philadelphia Transit Plan through encouraging ridership among its entire employee base,” said Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) Dr. Christopher Puchalsky.
As an employer - the City of Philadelphia looks forward to continuing to provide its employees with a vibrant work environment, comprehensive healthcare and benefits, and the experiences they need to grow and excel as they make an impact in Philadelphia.
“We applaud the City for its exemplary role in providing its 22,000+ employees with subsidized access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable transportation options,” said COO and Co-Founder of Jawnt Will Sanderson, a Philadelphia-based transportation technology company and the benefits administrator for SEPTA Key Advantage. “SEPTA Key Advantage is one of the most innovative transit pass programs in the country and we’re honored to provide the City and its employees with the comprehensive platform needed to make this program a success.”
The benefits extend to everyone traveling in the region - not just those who use SEPTA. By encouraging more people to take public transit - SEPTA Key Advantage helps reduce traffic congestion that is significantly impacting air quality and mobility as the pandemic recovery continues.
The passes can also be a powerful recruitment tool for businesses as they compete to hire and retain talent in the current job market. In addition - this program will help alleviate demand for parking, particularly at facilities such as hospitals where patient spaces are needed.
Leaders in the Kenney administration said they hope the Key Advantage program helps attract and retain employees. Almost 20% of budgeted city jobs are vacant - amid well-publicized workforce shortages nationwide.
Also beginning Friday, September 1, 2023 - students at Swarthmore College will get SEPTA Key cards to use during the academic term as part of SEPTA Key Advantage UPass. We hope to see more universities enroll in the program soon.
Interested employers and schools can apply and inquire about SEPTA Key Advantage here.