It’s time the City paints the streets red for buses.
Bus Only Lanes improve frequency and speed of service. There are key parts of the city that need dedicated bus lanes. Seeing a bus stand still in a sea of cars during rush hour is a pitiful sight. Being on that bus stuck in traffic is unpleasant and impacts riders’ ability to get to work or appointments on time.
In 2021, the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (oTIS) released the Philadelphia Transit Plan, declaring that the first crucial step towards implementing the plan was a network of high-quality, high-frequency bus corridors with dedicated lanes.
SEPTA’s Bus Revolution findings also show that many of the routes that have high ridership and slow speeds would benefit from having a dedicated lane. oTIS selected the following streets for bus only lanes:
Tier 1 (Highest priority):
- East Market Street
- Chestnut St. / Walnut St.
- Market Street & JFK Boulevard
- 20th Street
- Erie Avenue
- Olney Avenue
- Roosevelt Boulevard
- 52nd Street
- Lehigh Avenue
Tier 2 (Secondary priority):
- 19th Street
- 7th & 8th Street
- Spruce Street (from 33rd to 40th)
- 56th Street
- 29th Street
- Germantown Avenue
- Chelten Avenue
- Arrott Street
- Old York Road
- Oregon Avenue
- Castor Avenue
- Hunting Park Avenue
This is not a new concept. Other cities have started rolling out bus only lanes with much success. Toronto, San Francisco, Boston, and New York all have demonstrated the enormous benefits of dedicating road space to buses.
If Philadelphia wants to decrease congestion and help decelerate climate change in a cost effective way, putting down bus-only lanes is a great solution. This is also the best way to make our buses faster and more efficient, which will encourage commuters to switch from driving. With these lanes, we believe that Philadelphia can lead the way in having an efficient bus system that benefits everyone.
We ask Philadelphia’s City Council to support SEPTA and the Philadelphia Transit Plan by dedicating the priority bus corridors in their neighborhoods for the use of bus-only lanes. We also ask State Legislators to legalize automated bus lane enforcement to ensure these lanes are clear of personal vehicles.
We at 5th Square are thrilled to see SEPTA’s Budget, Planning, and Information Technology Committee recommend changes to their fare restructuring plan that move substantially in the direction of our Fair Fares advocacy platform. We thank all the volunteers who made calls, gave testimony before SEPTA, and spoke about these issues with their elected officials.
UPDATE: SEPTA spokespeople have said that SEPTA is committed to restoring the Route 15 trolleys after some planned construction projects finish next year. We've been down this road before with other trolley routes though, so it's important to keep the pressure on and keep contacting your elected officials.
Read SEPTA's comments to Philly Mag, and WHYY's coverage of this issue. Original petition with updates is after the jump.
SEPTA is planning to pull the Route 15 trolleys from service at the end of January for planned construction projects, and due to deferred maintenance issues with 78% of the fleet. They now say they'll be bringing the PCCs back when construction is over—a very positive sign!—but there are still big questions that need to be answered.
Please sign and share this petition calling on SEPTA and local officials to commit to high-quality trolley service on Girard Ave!
5th Square has learned that a bridge replacement project on West Girard will require the trolleys to be replaced with buses for at least a year. But SEPTA’s maintenance crews have also been directed for years to defer maintenance on the trolleys, and with as much as 78% of the fleet expected to fail inspection, they’ll all be pulled off the road as of Sunday.
In the best-case scenario, SEPTA must repair the PCC trolleys and have them ready to go when the construction projects tying up trolley service are over.
SEPTA should also use this time to begin the long-awaited but unfunded Trolley Modernization project, which could bring modern, brand-new trolleys with full accessibility to Girard Ave. However, given the coincidental timing of these issues, it’s also easy for management to justify “temporarily suspending” trolley service indefinitely. This happened back in 1992 with the original Routes 15, 23, and 56, and it took 13 years and over $100 million for the Route 15 trolleys to come back. Routes 23 and 56 are still waiting.
While trolley modernization is a great idea on paper, it can’t go anywhere without a firm plan to buy new trolleys. Otherwise, the only option left is to gradually scrap the rest of them as they break down, including those in West Philly, leaving riders with slower and more crowded buses.
We need SEPTA, Mayor Kenney, and City Council members with Route 15 service (Darrell Clarke, Mark Squilla, Jamie Gauthier, Curtis Jones, and Bobby Henon) to support world-class trolley service that is fast, accessible, and environmentally sustainable. We also need our elected officials to leverage their control of City streets by putting transit riders first.
After you sign and share this petition, make sure to contact SEPTA and City Hall and demand (politely!) that they:
- Fix the PCC trolleys and perform the needed maintenance
- Immediately resume and maintain existing Route 15 trolleys after bridge replacement
- Support SEPTA’s trolley modernization project to the fullest extent
- Ensure frequent, uncrowded, and reliable bus service during substitution with active monitoring
If done right, SEPTA’s trolley modernization program can dramatically improve conditions for 2.5 million yearly Route 15 riders, and set the standard for future transit improvements in Philadelphia. Transit riders need your help! Contact SEPTA/City Hall and tell them you want them to fix the Route 15 trolleys!
Route 15 trolley supporters who are able to attend should also come to SEPTA's next Board meeting on January 23rd at 3 PM at the 1234 Market office, and call on the Board to commit to bringing back trolley service on Girard Ave. RSVP here and you'll receive an email with talking points and instructions for Thursday's meeting.
RSVP for Thursday's Board meeting: https://www.5thsq.org/save_our_route_15_trolleys_at_the_septa_board_meeting
Contact your representatives:
Council District 5 | http://phlcouncil.com/darrellclarke/ | (215) 686-3442
Council District 1 | http://phlcouncil.com/MarkSquilla/ | (215) 686-3458
Council District 3 | http://phlcouncil.com/JamieGauthier/ | (215) 686-0459
Council District 4 | http://phlcouncil.com/CurtisJonesJr/ | (215) 686-3416
Council District 6 | http://phlcouncil.com/BobbyHenon/ | (215) 686-3444
The Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability has released their first long-term vision for a major Philadelphia corridor, Roosevelt Boulevard! Read all about 5th Square's response here...Read more
Photo: Jeff Fusco / Philly Mag
Mayor Kenney, City Council, and SEPTA:
Let's join other major cities including Dallas, Houston, Tampa, and the Twin Cities and offer complimentary public transit on election day. Let's help Philadelphians make a voting plan that includes SEPTA.
We know that not only getting to the polls can be challenging in Philadelphia, but many people also have long and expensive commutes on SEPTA to work and/or to drop their children off to daycare and schools, and getting to the polls may require an extra trip or two.
One poll showed thirty-eight percent of youth of color said that lacking transportation played a minor or major role in their choice not to vote, whereas just 27 percent of young white non-voters said the same.
By making SEPTA free to riders for the day, we can help ease the burden to make voting more convenient, create a culture that values voting from the highest levels of City government on down, and make sure Philadelphians get to the polls in a critical midterm election year when the city's interests are on the line in Harrisburg and Washington.
This November 6th, let's make it easier than ever to vote by funding free SEPTA for all on Election Day!
Ridership on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) fell 7.1% in 2016, driven by a sharp decline in bus ridership, according to data from the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database (NTD). SEPTA bus ridership is at its lowest level in five years, falling 13 million trips last year, roughly 14 fewer trips per bus rider. The city’s rail and trolley lines also fell by 8 million trips.Read more