SEPTA Wants to Split the 23 Into Two Routes: The 23 and the 45

Sadly, the new SEPTA bus route numbering is a coincidence — it isn't a reference to Michael Jordan's jersey numbers.

SEPTA Route 23 Bus and Michael Jordan

Photos: Route 23 bus by GK tramrunner229; Michael Jordan by Steve Lipofsky of

Last month, SEPTA announced it was seeking to split the 23 bus into two routes. This is notable because the 23 gets more complaints than any other bus line in the city.

It’s an incredibly long route, going from Chestnut Hill to South Philadelphia. As a result, it gets crowded and buses end up skipping stops. Until 1992, it operated as a trolley. SEPTA wants to split the line into two routes: A northern route — which would remain the 23 — would go between Chestnut Hill and Chestnut Street in Center City. The southern route — which would be christened the 45 — would go between Noble Street in Eraserhood to Oregon Avenue in South Philly.

Did you catch that? SEPTA is splitting the 23 into two routes: 23 and 45, Michael Jordan’s two numbers! Clearly, this is a tribute to the man who played his last professional game in Philadelphia, right?

Sadly, no. SEPTA spokesperson Manny Smith says the MJ-themed numbering is a coincidence. 45 was simply the lowest number that was not currently in use for a bus route or trolley. SEPTA’s city bus routes use numbers between 1 and 89. (A few of those routes leak out into the suburbs; a few city routes also use letters.)

The 45 was once used for the 125 bus that goes between Valley Forge and 13th and Market. But SEPTA changed the route number 15 years ago, and the planning team decided it was long enough.

“If Route 45 is approved after our service plan,” Smith says, “it would make the Route 23/45 a 2-3-4-5. How’s that?” That is also coincidental, of course. Darn it!

Even though the new 23/45 routes are not a tribute to Michael Jordan, we can still make it one. Plan Philly’s Jim Saska called it “the Michael Jordan of SEPTA lines,” and I think we should adopt that as a nickname. Instead of the 23, say you’re taking the Michael Jordan bus! And if the change is approved and you take the 45, simply say you’re taking the Michael Jordan for 22 games during the 1995 season bus. You can even mix it up and say you’re riding on the Michael Jordan on the Birmingham Barons bus!

Okay, okay, maybe numbers are easier. Things would get pretty confusing when you hop on the 12 and say you’re taking the Michael Jordan on Valentine’s Day, 1990, after his jersey was stolen bus.

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