SEPTA seeking feedback after releasing bus plan

SEPTA bus
SEPTA is redesigning its bus network.
Metro file

SEPTA this week presented a draft proposal for its “Bus Revolution” — a years-long project to redesign the city’s bus network — and riders will have the next few months to weigh in on the plan.

The recommendation from SEPTA’s planners is to decrease the total number of bus routes from 125 currently to 99, but an additional 11 routes will run every 15 minutes or less, increasing the number of high-frequency lines to 44.

In addition, 10 micro-transit zones, where people will be able to use an on-demand service similar to Uber or Lyft, would be established in the suburbs to replace routes with low ridership.

“This is the most important time for riders and potential riders to share input and ideas about the proposed changes, which are still in draft form,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richard said in a statement. “We need your feedback to get this right.”

More than 20 in-person open houses and virtual input sessions on the plan are scheduled through December, and residents can also submit feedback at septabusrevolution.com.

Also on the Bus Revolution website are maps of the draft proposal, including one that allows users to toggle between the current network and the recommendations, as well as a tool that allows riders to view changes to specific bus routes.

SEPTA officials said the plan would simplify schedules, with more streamlined and frequent service during non-rush hour times of the day and on weekends.

Routes with certain buses that branch off or begin and end at different points would be standardized, departing and arriving at a fixed destination along a set route. The plan also calls for more straight-line routes with fewer turns, officials said.

The proposal is not a service increase or cut and will use the same amount of resources as currently budgeted for the bus network, according to SEPTA.

In the micro-transit zones, which would be in areas including Lower Bucks County, Lansdale, West Chester and Phoenixville, vans or small buses would retrieve riders who request service, likely through a phone application.

Those who use the on-demand rides must be picked up and dropped off in the same designated zone.

The draft proposal was developed after SEPTA unveiled two options for the future of the bus system in April and sought public input. Officials characterized the recommendations rolled out this week as a compromise between the options.

After an additional round of feedback, planners will present final recommendations in early 2023, and implementation is expected to get started later in the year.

Open houses about the draft plan will begin later this month, with the first set for Oct. 18 at the Norristown Library. Online “community conversations” will be held focusing on a particular section of the region, such as Northeast Philadelphia or Center City.

For a full list of events, go to septabusrevolution.com and click on “Get Involved.”

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