By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The SEPTA official who headed up the long-delayed move to smartcards has left the transit agency to go work for a firm that is involved with the project.

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John McGee had been SEPTA’s point person on the shift — expected later this year — to smartcards. But he has retired after 30 years with SEPTA and will now work for an Ambler firm called LTK Engineering Services, which is acting as a consultant on the project.

Assistant SEPTA General Manager Fran Kelly says McGee cannot be involved in LTK’s work for SEPTA for one year.

“I’m not surprised (by the move),” he says. “John has done a good job moving this process along. And he takes a wealth of knowledge to a company like that, that probably wants to serve other transit agencies across the country.”

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Kelly says the roll-out of the smartcard system will not be impacted by McGee’s departure.

“Our target still is the fall of this year for the city transit system,” he says, “and we hope to do the (regional) railroads in 2015.”

The new system will allow riders to pay fares by swiping a Septa-issued smartcard, or 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.

Tokens are being eliminated.

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