Who’s Ready for a 24/7 SEPTA?

This Change.org petition, for one.

That great catalyst for real-life political results, Change.org, features a petition today to turn the El and the Broad Street line into a 24/7 service.

Perhaps it’d be better to start with a less ambitious proposal. In Boston, for instance, the MBTA is debuting weekend subway service until 3 a.m., which is costing the state more than $20 million per year. (Good luck getting Harrisburg Republicans to toss that into the annual subsidy.) Add the fact that SEPTA ridership is down significantly this year, and it doesn’t seem like there are enough bodies or cash to support even a smaller expansion.


Besides, there are only four public transit systems in the world that operate 24/7. NYC's MTA, the NYC/NJ PATH trains, the Chicago's Red and Blue Lines, and....drum roll, please: PATCO! So you can always ride that back and forth over the BFB all night if the Change.org thing doesn't work out.

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  • DTurner

    Yeah, not going to happen. As you mentioned, MBTA is only trying to get subway service until 3 AM and they required a subsidy for the state to do that. The bigger question is if it is even necessary. We already have buses that run these routes during the night every 15 min, which is probably better than the schedules we would get with a 24/7 subway. If people feel unsafe on these routes, the cheaper/more logical answer would be to improve safety perceptions on these routes.

    • ovomac

      MBTA is HORRIBLY managed and a very small transit system at that. They run very short routes, with the cheapest equipment possible, much like MTA. And also, the reason NY operates subway service 24 hours on some lines Has NOTHING to do with bars. It’s because BANKS run most of their lines and many of their people take the scummy lines to work since theres tons of traffic in NYC. But truthfully, NYC is better laid out to driving in, because the subway system rally should just be destroyed. It’s that badly laid out. And the gvmt and banks just keep pouring more into it thinking it’ll get better but it won’t. I guarantee you if we got that much subsidy, SEPTA would use that money effectively since they have very smart people there and some of the best engineers and planners, being as i’m in civil engineering myself. We need another subway. NY doesn’t. And SEPTA doesn’t barely have any debt. NY…all it is, is debt. They own nothing.

      MTA is awfully managed, bankrupt, and very inefficient. They are the biggest government leach aside from Monsanto and oil companies.

      SEPTA on the other hand is insanely well run and very efficient. But I don’t think running the Blue and Orange Lines 24/7 would be very beneficial. SEPTA runs some great systems. The Orange and Blue lines are efficient and economical. Can’t get much better.

      • DTurner

        SEPTA is absolutely a more efficient agency, but that is kind of moot point in our current system of paltry local funding and a transit-hostile state government. We need to either change perceptions in Harrisburg (unlikely) or explore and implement more local funding solutions for transit (more likely).

    • http://sictransitphiladelphia.org/ Sic Transit PHL

      One HUGE difference between SEPTA and MBTA is that the T wasn’t bustituting service overnight; they were just shut down. Replacing 4 buses an hour with 4 trains an hour is a lot cheaper than firing up 4 trains per hour from scratch.

      I’m agnostic about 24/7 service; I’ve taken the owl buses before, and find them uninspiring but perfectly adequate, so I want to see what the real budget effect would be of restoring rail service before demanding it. I’d also accept overnight service on two or three nights a week, as a compromise, and keep the maintenance windows open during the weeknights.

      I’m also aware that one big reason I’m OK taking the Owl buses at 2:00am is because I have the privilege associated with being a 30yo, 5’10″, 200+lbs. man of visually indeterminate ethnicity, i.e. the worst person in the city to ask about perceptions of security. If someone tells me they feel safer in a station than at a bus stop (or vice versa), I’m not going to argue that their feelings are invalid.

  • Spend More Money!

    ObamaCare will pay for it as a homeless counseling center.

    • ovomac

      Uh, no. You’re referring to NY.

  • IRideTheBus

    NYC only have 24/7 subways because bars and stuff are open until 4am. Too expensive and unsafe for what it would be worth. I also love that you waste web space cover a 100-person petition. People need to get over their aversion to taking buses. They are safer for overnight. None of the whiners who signed this petition would be willing to wait 30 minutes at a subway stop at 2am after the bars anyway, as that would be the logical schedule for something like this.

    • ovomac

      MBTA is HORRIBLY managed and a very small transit system at that. They run very short routes, with the cheapest equipment possible, much like MTA. And also, the reason NY operates subway service 24 hours on some lines Has NOTHING to do with bars. It’s because BANKS run most of their lines and many of their people take the scummy lines to work since theres tons of traffic in NYC.

      MTA is awfully managed, bankrupt, and very inefficient. They are the biggest government leach aside from Monsanto and oil companies.

      SEPTA on the other hand is insanely well run and very efficient. But I don’t think running the Blue and Orange Lines 24/7 would be very beneficial. SEPTA runs some great systems. The Orange and Blue lines are efficient and economical. Can’t get much better. So i agree it’s best to leave it as is in terms of the subways halting service for a few hours. We are the only agency to re-use our energy on the subways too.

  • IRideTheBus

    Sorry, I see they upped the petition from the 100 person signing yesterday to 1000 today. Still only a small number of the ridership of the city. I ride SEPTA everyday and don’t own a car and hate taxis. I never have a problem getting where I need to be at night, without a 24/7 subway. They are called buses and they are limited routes because people don’t typically ride that late.

  • http://thisoldcity.com/ this old city

    If PATCO can make it work, SEPTA can as well. The low SEPTA ridership this year is based off of one month’s data… not exactly a representative winter we’re having, as clearly stated in the report. Night buses are expensive. Reduce a night bus to pay for a 24/7 subway?

  • http://blog.philadelphiarealestate.com/ Sandy Smith

    Folks, this is Back to the Future stuff. Philadelphia’s subway-elevated system used to run 24/7. SEPTA ended the practice, which AFAIK dates back to the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company era, in the early 1990s as a cost-saving move.

    One point worth noting is that there is still 24/7 service on the rapid transit lines – it’s just not 24/7 TRAIN service. That still puts Philly in a very elite league in both North America and the world. In the US, only New York and Chicago offer round-the-clock rapid transit; none of the other cities with it even have night owl buses.

    To our deranged hyper-defender of the system who is often inaccurate on the details: SEPTA is the nation’s fifth-largest mass transit system, after the NY MTA, Chicago CTA/RTA, New Jersey Transit and LACMTA. The MBTA ranks right behind it at #6. The two systems are considered peers both by industry professionals and SEPTA itself.