Coming Soon: Two New SEPTA Bus Routes?

At least, that's the game plan for 2017-2018. But first, SEPTA wants to hear what you have to say about the proposed services.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

SEPTA wants to hear what you have to say about proposed changes in bus service, including two new routes slated to start service in 2017-18. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

SEPTA’s Annual Service Plan for Fiscal Year 2017 includes two new bus routes that won’t be launched in the coming fiscal year. That’s because the agency wants to get as much public feedback as it can about the proposed services before letting them roll.

Both of them, though, are much anticipated, and one of them responds to longstanding clamor from some Philadelphia neighborhoods for new service to fill a connectivity gap. Here’s the skinny on each of them:

Route 49
This new local bus route would run from 33rd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue to 33rd and Dickinson streets via University City. It would allow Brewerytown, Fairmount and Greys Ferry residents to reach employment and activities centers in U-City without having to travel into Center City and transfer.

“It will also serve the needs of riders who get off at 30th Street Station and want to get to the cultural attractions on the Parkway,” said Steve D’Antonio of SEPTA’s service planning department.

The exact routing of the 49 has yet to be determined, and public feedback will play a major role in determining that route. “We met with the Fairmount Civic Association [earlier this week], and they were very encouraging; they are one of the groups who have been requesting this service for at least five years,” D’Antonio said. “We have also received lots of letters from individual residents in Grays Ferry asking for this service.”

Enhanced Bus Service on Roosevelt Boulevard
Not full-blown bus rapid transit, but instead a faster version of the spine line of Northeast Philadelphia that incorporates many features of BRT, this service would parallel existing Route 14 from Frankford Transportation Center to Neshaminy Mall.

“We think a lot of people who ride the 14 would migrate to this service, as it will offer faster service for many riders who now transfer to the 14 to get to Neshaminy Mall” or Frankford, D’Antonio said. In contrast to the current Route 14 express service, this line would operate all day, with stops spaced at 1/2-mile to one-mile intervals, including the major transfer points along the route. Other BRT-like features SEPTA intends to incorporate into the line when it launches in fiscal year 2018 include sheltered stations with real-time arrival and status information, distinctive branding including specially wrapped 60-foot buses, signal priority for transit vehicles and all-door boarding, which would require off-board fare collection.

SEPTA is launching this service in coordination with the City of Philadelphia’s comprehensive review of the Boulevard as a multimodal transportation corridor, a two-year study funded by a Federal TIGER grant.

“The only way we could have done these this year is to make a lot of decisions without public input, and we didn’t want to do that,” D’Antonio said. In addition to meeting with community and civic groups in the areas served by these routes, SEPTA is holding a public open house this coming Monday (March 21) in order to collect that feedback. In addition to these two services, SEPTA also seeks public comment on a proposed peak-hour extension of Route 2 service to Wayne Junction and a reconfiguration of the Route 310 Horsham Breeze service.

There will be two public open houses on Monday, March 28, at SEPTA headquarters, 1234 Market Street. One will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. and the other will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

[Updated March 18, 10:29 p.m., to correct the open house date.]