We urge SEPTA, PennDOT, DVRPC, the City of Philadelphia, and elected officials to come together and integrate the Roosevelt Boulevard Subway into corridor transportation plans.
It’s been over a century since Philadelphia first proposed the Roosevelt Boulevard Subway. Northeast Philly has since exploded in population, exceeding 500,000 residents and growing larger than Pittsburgh, Atlanta, or Minneapolis. 1 out of 3 people in Philadelphia live within one mile of the Boulevard.
This area is home to our city’s most diverse neighborhoods and census tracts with the highest poverty rates. 18 percent of the corridor’s residents are born outside the United States, and almost one third speak a language other than English.
Thousands who travel daily by car and bus in Northeast Philly are mired with traffic congestion and delays. Bus riders in particular are forced to sit in mixed car traffic onboard crowded buses lurching to and from stops along Roosevelt Boulevard.
The Boulevard has also earned the nickname “the corridor of death” due to the exorbitant rate of pedestrian and motorist fatalities. Pedestrians, especially seniors, children, and those with disabilities, are forced to cross longer than a football field of moving cars. Black and brown communities and low-income communities are often the most impacted by high-fatality roads such as these. It's time we rethink Roosevelt Boulevard.
The benefits of the Roosevelt Boulevard subway would be massive
The Boulevard Subway would improve the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians by:
- Providing affordable and direct connections to jobs in Center City and Northeast Philly
- Improving equity by closing the gap in transit access across race and income
- Relieving traffic congestion and shorten commute times
- Enhancing pedestrian safety through a safer roadway design with buried lanes of traffic
- Fighting climate change and improving local air quality
- Growing the economic impact of the region through transit-oriented commercial and residential development
- Creating local construction jobs
According to a 2003 study, the subway line would attract 124,500 daily riders and divert 83,300 daily trips from cars to transit. A trip between the Far Northeast and City Hall that’s currently 60 minutes would be cut to 32 minutes.
We cannot let another century pass without action
The Roosevelt Boulevard subway would have a higher ridership than any proposed subway line in the country. We encourage the region to leverage newly increased federal funding sources, especially block grants to move roadway funding to transit, as well as value capture solutions through new transit-oriented development along the Boulevard.