Ask SEPTA: five things to know about regional transit in 2015

Boy selling candy on SEPTA train killed in fall between cars
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Every three weeks, SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey addresses reader-submitted questions about the city’s public transit system. This week,​ in a special edition of the bi-montly column, Casey offers Metro readers “Five things to know about regional transit in 2015.”

SEPTA Key: In 2015, SEPTA will begin transitioning to its modernized fare collection system, the SEPTA Key.

Joe Casey: With the new system, customers will use a contactless “SEPTA Key” branded card that can be purchased from local retailers, at station kiosks, SEPTA sales offices and online. This will usher in a transition from outdated fare instruments such as tokens, paper tickets and magnetic stripe passes to cutting-edge chip-enabled payment devices.

Introduction of the new fare collection system will occur in two stages – subways, buses and trolleys will begin in 2015; Regional Rail, CCT Connect Paratransit and parking are scheduled for 2016. To keep customers informed during the transition, a wide-ranging public outreach effort will be conducted before and throughout SEPTA Key implementation, and there will be regular updates on our website.

Construction:Hammering away at the $5 billion “Rebuilding for the Future” capitalconstruction plan.

​Joe Casey: Shortly after the November 2013 passage of Act 89, Pennsylvania’s comprehensive solution for transportation funding, SEPTA launched a new capital construction program – Rebuilding for the Future -to address a $5 billion backlog of critical capital construction projects. SEPTA has already begun to perform some of the work associated with the new program and will continue pressing forward in 2015, with efforts such as upgrades and repairs to critical viaducts on the Media/Elwyn Line and the modernization of power substations that date back to the 1930s.

Work will also continue to meet the federally mandated deadline for the implementation of a Positive Train Control (PTC) system on Regional Rail by Dec. 31, 2015, an effort that will enhance travel safety. We’ll also complete work on the Wayne Junction Station, a long-term effort to modernize this historic and key multi-modal transfer point. Improvements will include full ADA accessibility, platform renovations and rehabilitation of the site’s historic features.

Rail Cars: To accommodate high ridership, SEPTA plans to update and expand its Regional Rail fleet.

Joe Casey: SEPTA ridership is at an all-time high, particularly on Regional Rail, where it has increased by more than 50 percent over the last 15 years. To accommodate this demand, SEPTA plans to update and expand its fleet, which will address current capacity constraints and allow for future growth. In 2015, SEPTA plans to award a contract for new electric locomotive engines to replace units that date back to 1987, and move forward with work to overhaul 22 commuter coaches. Work also continues on the effort to add new bi-level Regional Rail coaches, which will add much-needed capacity for customers.

Parking Expansion:The $22 million overhaul of the Secane Station begins.

Joe Casey: The Secane Station overhaul and parking expansion, a $22 million effort that will move forward in 2015, is one of the first steps in an overall effort to strategically add parking throughout the system. Secane will get 60 additional spaces to accommodate continued ridership growth. Work at the station includes a complete renewal of all facilities including a new station building with canopy, new high level platforms, pedestrian tunnel and accessibility enhancements.

Papal Visit:Preparing for the Pope’s 2015 visit.

Joe Casey: Like many in the region, SEPTA is looking forward to – and preparing for – the much-anticipated visit from Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in September. SEPTA will play a major role in the success of this event. We look forward to working with event organizers and our and our partners in the region to provide world-class transportation for this international event.

What would youAsk SEPTA? Email your questions to Metro Reporter Tommy Rowan at [email protected].