Redesign SEPTA’s Bus Network and SUPPORT Greater Philadelphia Recover from the Pandemic
Transit Forward Philadelphia is calling upon SEPTA to transform its current bus service to be faster, more frequent, and more reliable while connecting communities in a safe and dignified manner
Buses are a lifeline for residents and riders in Southeast Pennsylvania. Riders depend on SEPTA buses to provide access to jobs, healthcare, school, and connections to family, culture, and communities. Without a fast, frequent, and reliable bus network, riders lose access to the countless number of opportunities the Greater Philadelphia region has to offer.
Unfortunately, bus riders no longer see SEPTA buses as a reliable and dependable transportation option and are forced to utilize a network that was designed over 30 years ago and is no longer responsive to the needs of today’s riders.
SEPTA's buses are getting slower and slower each year, averaging less than 12mph during most of the day which causes major delays for both riders and operators and hinders riders from arriving at their destination on time.
Reliability and on-time performance of SEPTA buses have been poor and substandard. Riders are left waiting at stops for long periods unsure of whether or not their bus will arrive. SEPTA has set a reliability goal of 80%, defined as the percentage of buses that arrive within 6-minutes of their scheduled arrival time. Yet, a majority of bus routes do not meet this standard and continually show up late, well past this 6-minute window.
SEPTA buses do not run frequently enough which causes overcrowding and longer wait times for riders. The frequency or number of buses that arrive at a stop is one of the single most important factors for bus riders. Yet, more than 50% of SEPTA buses arrive every 15 minutes or later.
Since SEPTA’s bus network has not undergone major design changes other than ad-hoc tweaks to certain routes, parts of the network are outdated and inequitable. Current bus service fails to meet the needs of low-income households, BIPOC communities, immigrants and refugees, riders with disabilities, senior citizens, and our talented and diverse workforce of essential workers. The current bus network is based on yesterday’s discriminatory decision-making process and SEPTA’s legacy system is a product of a time where segregation and racism were legal.
Fortunately, SEPTA is planning to Redesign its entire bus network to create a frequent, interconnected, and easy to understand network. All aspects of bus service will be reviewed including bus routes, the spacing between stops, frequency of service, communication of information to riders, and the number of hours a day that bus service is provided.
This project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for riders and residents to help shape a new, robust, and comprehensive bus network. SEPTA has the chance to meet the needs of today’s riders, and provide an accessible and usable bus network to everyone in the region.
We are calling upon SEPTA to transform their current bus service to be faster, more frequent, and more reliable while connecting communities in a safe and dignified manner through a Bus Network Redesign that will SUPPORT Greater Philadelphia and help the region recover from the pandemic.
Now is the time for SEPTA to do good on its commitment to equity by prioritizing the needs of under-resourced communities and redesigning the bus network to SUPPORT Greater Philadelphia’s recovery from the pandemic.
S: Start Over
P: Publicly Engaged
- SEPTA needs to start over and redesign the bus network for today’s needs.
- Bus routes need to be easy to understand and better connected to SEPTA’s trolleys, trains, and subways.
- The redesign must use proven research, to design the bus network around quick connections rather than lengthy one-seat rides.
- Engage the public and involve riders and residents regularly during the entire planning process of the redesign. Ask for public input before approaching riders and residents with a proposed plan.
- Increase the number of opportunities and the number of Philadelphians who have access to frequent and reliable bus service. Prioritizing the redesign around low-income and Philadelphians of color as well as the elderly and persons with disabilities.
- Improve service so that buses are more reliable and show up more often and on-time.
- Implement and complete the redesign in a timely manner.
For SEPTA to achieve these goals, the Bus Network Redesign must
- Engage at least 20,000 riders and residents during the public participation process of the redesign.
- Provide 85% of bus riders with service every 10-minutes or better throughout the entire day.
- Ensure buses travel on average a minimum of 13-14mph during a typical weekday by expanding bus lanes and bus priority treatments.
- Make every bus stop and its sidewalks ADA accessible.
- Provide shelters and real-time information at bus stops serving more than 500 riders after the redesign is complete.
- Plan routes for future electrification of buses where possible.
By providing a fast, frequent, and reliable bus network, SEPTA can boost the economic recovery of the region and strengthen Philadelphia’s regional competitiveness as well as the prosperity of its families and communities. A robust and well-connected bus network also gives riders the freedom to access countless opportunities throughout the region. The quality of life for residents will improve while simultaneously reducing the effects of climate change on our environment.
Sign up and SUPPORT our Better Access, Better Service, Better Buses campaign today!