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On Monday, December 11, SEPTA revealed the "final" map and frequency for its Bus Revolution. Its vote before the SEPTA Board has been postponed until at least January, but learn now about the proposed changes, and prepare to make a comment at the Board meeting.
Begun before the pandemic, and ramped up in 2021, SEPTA is responding to bus ridership that has been in decline since at least 2012 alongside slowing speeds and worse on-time performance. Its goal is to make buses faster, more reliable, and more frequent. Through two-plus years of design drafts and public meetings, we have surveyed, watched, informed, and advocated for a community-responsive redesign.
Most crucially, the redesign is structured to be cost-neutral, meaning that no new "service hours" will be added; any increases in frequency or route coverage in one location must be compensated for with cuts in other areas. As expected, this has led to a contentious process, with sizable changes at each step of the process in response to community advocacy.
- Elimination of some on-demand service near Chadds Ford and in Limerick-Spring City-Phoenixville, leading to reinstating or extension of routes including 99, 117, and 119
- Add Route 26 service to Chelten Avenue Station to cover former K bus connection
- Restore Route 28 alignment via via Cedar Road, Fox Chase Road, and Forrest Avenue
- Restore Route 49 connection to 30th Street Station and University City via Market Street
- Restore Route 67 connection to Frankford Transportation Center
- Extended Route 77 to its current terminus at Chestnut Hill Loop
- Create hourly Route 105 connection to Paoli Hospital to replace current Route 106
- Extending portion of Route 116 30MAX service to Marcus Hook Station in South Chester
- New Route 117 one-seat ride between Chester Transit Center and Painters Crossing
- Realigned Route 129 to serve industrial parks and connect to future Lower Bucks Government Services Center
- Route 32 is still eliminated
To view all of the proposed changes across the system visit the SEPTA Bus Revolution website. More specifically, riders can view SEPTA's feedback to areas of greatest public comment in September here, alongside descriptions of all route changes on this map and "tariff" sheets detailing with maps how each route will be altered.
Transit Forward Philly is working with TransitCenter to create case studies with analysis of specific neighborhoods experiencing some of the greatest gains and losses in access, illustrating the challenges with creating a cost-neutral redesign. Those will be linked and described here once they are complete.
Through analysis with TransitCenter (links to be added above), we have found that the Bus Revolution's proposals currently do not lead to major net losses (across demographics and times of day) in access to jobs, recreation centers, hospitals, or libraries. In fact, there are generally incremental gains across the system, most measurable for households without access to a car, and during historically "off-peak" hours, though those numbers are overall still small.
This project is SEPTA's first attempt at creating a better bus system, and it is clear that without additional operating dollars, there is little improvement possible. We must push for money from the state and federal government to provide the frequent, reliable service that riders demand time after time. And if Bus Revolution passes the Board, we must demand early, frequent, and expansive communication using the extensive tools and technology at SEPTA's disposal to inform the public of the changes taking place.
That means multilingual messages, bulletins at every bus stop and aboard every bus, and updated audio, video, and printed reminders across the system to replace the often-years-old messaging that clouds public addresses and bus ads currently.
As of December 18, SEPTA expects to bring Bus Revolution before the January 25, 3pm, Board meeting, where the public will be able to comment. Watch SEPTA's calendar and we'll update this blog and our newsletter once the agenda is confirmed, along with links to provide in-person or virtual public comment. Any changes to the current route proposals will be added to the SEPTA website no later than January 12.
Contact us with any questions or concerns, and together we can push SEPTA and our governments to provide more service, and communicate clearly and extensively about any changes that take place on our buses. Make our voices heard, and deliver the "rider-driven bus network" we have demanded since our founding.