What If You Could Get from Philly to D.C. on Public Transit?

Septa regional rail train

There are a few ways to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.: You can shell out the dough for Amtrak (expensive!), sit in traffic on I-95 (exhausting!), take the bus (slow!) or fly (bank-breaking!). That could change in the coming years, making travel between the two cities much easier and cheaper.

MARC and DART, Maryland and Delaware’s respective public transportation agencies, are currently discussing the possibility of bridging a long-time gap between Newark — a DART bus hub and SEPTA’s southern terminus — and Perryville, Maryland, MARC’s northernmost commuter rail stop, 20 miles away. Right now, that stretch has no commuter transportation, save for Amtrak and regional bus lines.  Read more »

Apple Picks Philly to Debut New Transit App

Screen shots of the new Apple Transit, set to debut soon in Philly.

Screen shots of the new Apple Transit, set to debut soon in Philly.

Apple has chosen Philadelphia and nine other North American and European cities to debut its new Transit app, which is basically Apple Maps but for public transportation. It provides step-by-step directions across multiple modes of transportation like buses, trains, subways and walking.

It’s debuting simultaneously in Baltimore, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. It will also be available in 300 cities in China. (Yes, 300.) Read more »

The Media Is Vastly Underestimating SEPTA’s Constituency

Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

For the first time ever in a Philadelphia mayoral campaign, all of the candidates in this year’s primary tipped their proverbial hats to the importance of multimodal transit.

This was no more apparent than at the 2015 Better Mobility Forum, which was attended by five of the six Democratic contenders, along with Republican candidate Melissa Murray Bailey. The event, which was moderated by Citified, covered once-niche, increasingly mainstream topics like “Vision Zero,” the elitism of bike lanes, and ways to improve SEPTA. Half the candidates claimed to ride the bus to work, and Bailey said she is part of a SEPTA family.

Hosting a forum on matters of mobility, during the thick of election season no less, is one step forward for the nascent — but viable — political constituency surrounding transit issues, which includes bike advocates, civically-minded pedestrians, and residents who rely on public transportation. That last subset in particular — people dependent on SEPTA — is robust.

And yet, we in the press often minimize how many Philadelphians fall into that camp. Read more »

Here Are Maps of All of SEPTA’s Proposed Route Changes

Spring is here, which means it’s time for SEPTA’s annual planning ritual. The Annual Service Plan is where SEPTA lays out the route changes it intends to make in its bus and rail lines and puts them before you, the riding public, for feedback.

This year, SEPTA plans changes to 16 bus and rail routes in the city and the suburbs to improve operating efficiency and beef up service. Here’s a map of each proposed change with a brief explanation: Read more »

What Could Have Been: Proposed Rapid Transit Lines for Philadelphia

Image via Philadelphia Studies

Image via Philadelphia Studies (Psssst! Click the image for a closer look!)

GAHH, if only! As a staunch public transit rider who takes both a bus and the El to get from Northeast Philly to Center City (takes anywhere from 45 mins to an hour and a half, depending…well, more on that later), something like the above-pictured rapid transit system would be deeply appreciated by occasionally resentful, but always loyal, commuters like myself.

And no. Much like our Jaw Dropper of the Week home, this is not some silly April Fools’ joke. Rather, it’s a blast from the past found on Michael Krasulski’s Philadelphia Studies blog:

Back in 2002, while on medical leave, I attempted to abstract and post online the annual reports of the Philadelphia Department of City Transit. […] A fellow on the Main Line, whose name I have long forgotten, made this for my website. The map is, mostly, based on the original 1913 plan. He added the airport connection “just because.”

In other words, the map you’re looking at is a modern day illustration of the rapid transit lines proposed by Philadelphia Transit Commissioner A. Merritt Taylor between 1913 and 1915 (except for the airport line, of course). Philebrity notes that when Taylor was drawing up these routes the Market-Frankford Line was still “in its infancy” and the Broad Street Line would not be built for another ten years or so.

Still, as Jim Saksa points out in a tweet, this was all formulated at a time when “we still had streetcars everywhere.” SEPTA went on to acquire these after taking over the system in 1968, but only seven surface lines continued into the early 1970s, “along with the five Subway-Surface Lines that still serve West Philadelphia,” according to Jake Blumgart in this 2012 Inquirer article. Here’s what Blumgart says helped preserve those lines still running in West Philly:

Read more »

The Futuristic New SEPTA Trolleys Will Look Like …

Munich's Siemens Avenio Streetcar Photo Credit: Siemens AG

Munich’s Siemens Avenio Streetcar. Photo by Siemens AG

Two weeks ago, Citified reported that SEPTA has begun the early procurement phase of a massive, once-in-a-generation overhaul of the aging trolley fleet. Over the next few years, SEPTA plans to unload serious capital (at least $200 million) into new, 80-foot-long, low-floor vehicles that will replace the 1980s Kawasaki models that are predominantly in use. But what the new SEPTA trolleys — or perhaps we’ll finally start calling them streetcars — will actually look like, remains unknown. Byron Comati, SEPTA’s director of strategic planning and analysis, said that the agency is in the midst of getting an expression of interest from companies around the globe:

To see what the manufacturers, the car builders can do. What’s out there? Responding to our expression of interest means that whether you’re from a German company, a Dutch company, an American Company, a Chinese company, a Korean company — what’ve you got?

SEPTA has some options. Around the globe, manufacturers have been designing low-floor models that could fit the SEPTA’s trolley specs and be customized for Philly streets. Here’s a look at what’s out there. Read more »

Sleek, Modern Trolleys Coming to Philly

"United Streetcar 10T3 prototype for Portland" by Steve Morgan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:United_Streetcar_10T3_prototype_for_Portland.jpg#/media/File:United_Streetcar_10T3_prototype_for_Portland.jpg

Modern, articulating trolleys, like this one in Portland, Oregon, are coming to Philadelphia. | Photo by Steve Morgan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Philadelphia has the largest trolley system in the nationa title it’s held since the 1970s. But the old-school tanks climbing up and down city streets look like relics from our parents’ (or grandparents’) generation. Trolleys along Baltimore Avenue in the Southwest are early-80s Kawasaki models; on Girard Avenue, the trolleys are actually reconditioned from the ‘40s.

In a few years, though, that’s going to change in a big way.

In an interview with Citified, SEPTA’s director of strategic planning and analysis, Byron Comati, said that a massive trolley fleet renovation is on the horizon. “Once the Key system is done, the next biggie that has complications will be trolley modernization,” Comati said. “It’s a transformational project. You do this once in a generation.” Read more »

POLL: Would You Use Franklin Square Station If It Reopened?

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

On Monday the Inquirer’s Paul Nussbaum reported that it would cost about $18.5 million for PATCO to reopen Franklin Square Station, a stop on PATCO’s High Speed Line that was last put to use in 1979. In the wake of the Franklin Square’s somewhat recent stretch of success as a social space, do you think it should reopen? Let us know what you think in the below poll.

The projected amount for the station’s renewal comes from a study commissioned by the Delaware River Port Authority. According to Nussbaum, the potential cost is “50 percent more than transit officials expected. Additionally, the report makes no recommendations about opening it to the pubic again and estimates that ridership, which it appraises would might consist of up to 1,300 people, would mostly be “current riders who now use the Eighth and Market Streets station.”

Read more »

SEPTA Ridership Was Down in 2014—Are Millennials to Blame?

shutterstock_98638544

Shutterstock.com

After record-breaking ridership on SEPTA in 2013, fewer Philadelphians took public transit last year, according to a new report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The system maintained its status as the 6th-most travelled metro system, but transit trips were down about 7 million in total, or, about 2 percent on the year. Nationwide, passengers on public transportation increased by 1 percent in 2014 (barely outpacing U.S. population growth), contributing to 10.8 billion rides, the highest total mark in 58 years. Read more »

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