By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — SEPTA riders are paying a bit higher fares today (see related story), but major changes in how they pay are coming soon.  The first automated, electronic turnstiles are scheduled to begin going into place this fall.

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This will be the last price increase ever for tokens. That’s because by this time next year, Septa predicts, there will be no more tokens.  Riders will pay the discounted fare price with a Septa-issued smartcard, or with their own bank card if it’s equipped with a special chip.

Drivers on buses and trolleys will still accept cash, but the smartcard will be the only way onto subways.

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Linda Hickman, who is helping roll out the new fare collection system for Septa, says cashiers will no longer sit in a booth at subway stops but will become customer service agents, “to help the customer with purchasing their fare, entering the system, getting around Septa.”

Hickman says that smartcards will eventually be used on Regional Rail trains as well, but she couldn’t estimate when.

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