SEPTA Forward: Bus Revolution
Case Studies

SEPTA Forward: Bus Revolution

Philadelphia, PA

SEPTA Forward: Bus Revolution aims to make riding the bus an easier, faster, more reliable and more competitive option for more people—with the goal of bringing riders back to the system.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) operates one of the largest bus systems in the United States, which until the Covid-19 pandemic, carried over 500,000 passengers per weekday. It is also one of the nation’s largest legacy systems; much of the network can still be traced back to its streetcar-era roots, and a few of those lines are still running.

As has been the case elsewhere, much has changed since the streetcarera. Philadelphia’s economy declined in the 1970s, then turned around and hasgrown since the 1980s into the modern and prosperous city that it is today.When the economy declined, many residents and jobs moved out of the city andinto the suburbs. Then, as the city came back, so did residents and jobs.However, they are not entirely the same residents and jobs, and the ways thatcurrent riders travel and the places they travel to is quite different fromwhen SEPTA’s core system was developed. To be sure, SEPTA has made many changesover this period to reflect changing needs. However, these changes have notbeen enough, such that since 2012, SEPTA’s bus ridership has decreased over 10%while the City of Philadelphia added people and jobs.

The Comprehensive Bus Network Redesign isdesigned to reevaluate and revolutionize SEPTA’s bus network, with the goal ofaligning bus services with Philadelphia’s changing development patterns andmatching the needs of the overall metropolitan service area. The Nelson\Nygaardteam worked closely with SEPTA staff on this project, using a data-drivenapproach (market analysis, ridership and service review, and networkevaluation) and supporting an extensive stakeholder and community engagementprocess. Throughout, the team has stayed focused on the core goals of making SEPTA’sservices more user-friendly—easier to understand, faster, more direct, and morereliable—with the goal of bringing riders back to the system.

SEPTA is currently transitioning fromplanning the Bus Revolution to implementing recommended changes. The projecthas completed extensive community engagement, and our team is working to finalizerecommendations by refining travel speeds and times to confirm costs, support scheduling,and develop a communications strategy.

Speakers
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  • Passengers per Weekday
    600,000
  • Bus Routes in SEPTA's System
    125
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