East Hunting Park Gets Bus Service Starting Sunday

Route 53 will be extended east along Hunting Park Avenue to Juniata Park, serving a growing Hispanic community in North Philly.

Route 53 Extension Map

The red line on this map shows the route of the new East Hunting Park extension of Route 53. Map | Courtesy SEPTA

Starting Sunday, February 21st, most trips on SEPTA Bus Route 53, which currently connects Mt. Airy with Hunting Park subway station via Wayne Avenue, will be extended to serve the Hunting Park, Feltonville and Juniata Park neighborhoods via Hunting Park Avenue.

The extension will provide east-west service and Broad Street Line connections to a growing collection of businesses and service agencies along East Hunting Park Avenue, many of them serving the area’s Hispanic population. Among the facilities the extension will serve are the Esperanza Academy Charter School, the La Fortaleza complex, Concilio and the Hunting Park Plaza shopping center. The new service will also connect with north-south Routes 4, 47, 57 and 89. Most of the 22 new stops being added along the extension are at signalized intersections to maximize passenger safety.

The extension came to be as a result of SEPTA’s Annual Service Plan process, which evaluates suggestions for new routes, route extensions and service changes to match supply with demand.

“Economic development in this area has led to increased demand for service,” SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel said in a news release. “As part of our Annual Service Plan process, we conducted a thorough ridership review, and we believe this extension will help meet current and future transit needs along East Hunting Park Avenue.”

“SEPTA’s extension of Hunting Park Avenue’s Route 53 is enthusiastically welcomed,” Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, whose district includes the corridor, said in the release. “This will provide greater accessibility to businesses and neighborhoods along the thoroughfare, as well as provide more travel options to and from the Broad Street Line. This route extension was much needed for those in our community who depend on public transportation.”

Brandon Miller, senior operations planner in SEPTA’s service planning department, said that the Route 53 currently carries about 700,000 riders each year. The extension is expected to add another 90,000 trips to that total.

The extended service will operate as follows: On weekdays, every other trip between the hours of 7 and 9:30 a.m. and 3 and 10 p.m. will operate between Wayne Avenue and Carpenter Lane and Hunting Park Avenue and G Street. From 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., all trips will operate between those two points. On weekends, two trips between 8:30 and 10 a.m. and every other trip between 6 and 10 p.m. will operate to Hunting Park Avenue and G Street; between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., all trips will operate to that terminus. All service outside these hours will end at Hunting Park subway station.

Bilingual flyers and brochures are being distributed at key community and service centers along the route to raise awareness of the new extension. Riders can also learn about the new service by visiting the Route 53 Extension page on the SEPTA website.

Follow Sandy Smith on Twitter.