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Last Monday, March 20, SEPTA unveiled in a Transit Talk its updated draft network for the region's bus network. Over the next several weeks, the agency will host a large array of in-person and virtual events with the public, sharing information, and receiving feedback on this unprecedented transit overhaul.
With these revisions, SEPTA is responding officially to the thousands of comments made by bus riders throughout the Fall and Winter, with key adjustments in the second draft affecting Roxborough-Manayunk, Kensington/Fishtown/Riverwards, and North-South connections through Philadelphia. 76% of the 1000+ attendees of the virtual Transit Talk reported first learning of the Bus Revolution during the Fall draft period, illustrating the emerging local consciousness around the proposed Bus Revolution and its implications for the region.
This meeting served as a kickoff to this latest public engagement period, which will include in-person pop-ups at transit hubs, and open houses in each city council district and county service area. And online, SEPTA staff will facilitate weekly Community Conversation webinars, and weekly updates to the project site responding to rider questions.
Below, we outline the updates and provide some highlights of the process ahead, including tools available to help bus riders understand how proposed changes may affect them.
The Bus Revolution design process is iterative, and now is the time to have your voice heard. Decisions are not final; getting involved now isn't too late! Between now and May 8, SEPTA will host nearly 60 events in-person and virtually across the five-county area served by the transit agency. There, riders can learn about proposed changes, share feedback, and speak directly with SEPTA and local government staff about the goals and challenges of this attempt to make southeastern Pennsylvania's bus system faster, more reliable, and more frequent. Online, SEPTA has promised to update the Bus Revolution website with weekly videos and responses to common rider questions as they arise.
Events begin this Monday, April 3 with a webinar focused on South and North Philadelphia. Riders can view the full list of events here, and Transit Forward Philadelphia will be sending out weekly calendar updates via E-mail as feedback opportunities are added. Feedback will be accepted online through Memorial Day and into June, before the next set of adjustments are made through the Summer.
As of March 30, here are some of the upcoming in-person community meetings:
- Wednesday, 4/5 - East Passyunk Recreation Center (1025 Mifflin St) - 6pm - 8pm
- Wednesday, 4/12 - Kingsessing Rec Center (4901 Kingsessing Ave) - 5.30pm - 7.30pm
- Thursday, 4/13 - Mayfair Community Center (2990 St Vincent St) - 6pm - 8pm
- Wednesday, 4/19 - Bustleton Memorial American Legion Post 810 (9151 Old Newtown Rd) - 5.30pm - 7.30pm
- Tuesday, 4/25 - NW Regional Library (68 W Chelten Ave) - 4.30pm - 6.30pm
- Wednesday, 4/26 - Dropsie College (2331 N Broad Street) - 6pm - 8pm
- Wednesday, 5/3 - Guerin Rec Center (2201 S 16th Street) - 6pm - 8pm
- Thursday, 5/4 - Community Center at Visitation (2646 Kensington) - 6pm - 8pm
MORE TO BE ADDED + many more pop-ups and online meetings currently scheduled!
Find the most up-to-date listing of engagement opportunities right here.
Facing a decade of declining ridership prior to the pandemic, SEPTA's Bus Revolution responds to the feedback we heard in our rider-driven bus survey. The agency's goals are for straighter, simpler bus routes, increased frequency, and improved all-day and weekend service, the latter reflecting changing commute patterns since the onset of the pandemic.
In this second draft, the network and supporting materials focus on personal safety (fewer transfers to trains), clear demarcation of school routes, and the return of many one-seat rides to key destinations, including hospitals and to Center City. Additionally, the draft restores several routes proposed to be eliminated and features fewer "on-demand" zones in the suburbs.
While the Bus Revolution project is slated to be cost neutral and provide the same number of service hours as the current network, SEPTA faces a continued bus driver shortage that greatly affects potential increases in service hours. We understand this challenge, but we will continue to push for more frequent, reliable, and faster service as most successful bus network redesigns have come with increased funding. We see the Bus Revolution as a starting place, from which we can demand more investment and service.
Under this iteration of Bus Revolution, the system is now proposed to feature 44 frequent bus routes running every 15 minutes or less, up from 33 in the current network. To accommodate this, SEPTA has proposed cutting total routes from 125 to 105, the latter a slight bump from the first draft in the Fall. Changes to bus stop density are forthcoming, and will be part of a separate community engagement process beginning later this year.
Major alterations from the first draft largely align with the feedback Transit Forward Philly observed at public meetings through the Fall and Winter. In our descriptions below, "high-frequency" means buses that run every 15 minutes or less, all day from 6am till 9pm.
Notable changes from the first draft include:
- Route 49 - remains a high-frequency route, with a new path avoiding Center City to reduce delays, improving service to Mantua, and restoring its direct connection to University City
- Route 33 - remains a high-frequency route, while reestablishing the direct connection to Center City and realigning its northbound path to 21st street, closer to its southbound path
- Route 17 - remains a high-frequency route, while returning its terminus to 20th and Johnston, and reestablishing a direct connection to Center City
- Route 57 - remains a high-frequency route and splits into the proposed "520" to improve reliability and frequency, while shifting the proposed route split to further north in response to common travel patterns and rider/operator feedback
- Routes 9 & 27 - return to current paths, with commuter-based frequencies and school service included
- Route 12 - reestablishes direct connection to Center City, with minor alignment change along Chestnut/Walnut to improve reliability and frequency
Riders may view all of these changes, and more, in full detail on the SEPTA Bus Revolution site.
With the latest draft, SEPTA has updated many of the tools unveiled in the Fall like the Remix Map layering the full set of bus routes, alongside an array of new route change descriptions and area maps to help riders better view and respond to the proposed changes.
In particular, Transit Forward Philadelphia is excited to report the shift to using the current bus route numbering system, alleviating confusion about the new network's intentions and potential route consolidations. The website also now offers a route-by-route look at proposed changes, as well as neighborhood-based maps so riders can see how proposed routes look put together in their area.
All of these tools and more can be viewed on the SEPTA Bus Revolution site.
As we study the changes made in this second draft bus network, it is apparent that rider feedback made a big difference in shaping its design. And we're excited to see how that can continue through the Spring, to move our region one step closer to the Better Access, Better Services, Better Buses we deserve.
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Click here to view the full Bus Revolution website.
Reach out to Transit Forward Philadelphia, or SEPTA directly, if you are curious about additional materials or have trouble using or understanding what is available.