The southeastern Pennsylvania area is about to get a whole heap of fresh public transportation options. SEPTA, the local transportation authority, announced this week that it will expand or enhance 65 "transportation options" in the coming months, with most of these changes happening in September and October. This will be the largest expansion of "public transportation service" in SEPTA's history. You can probably guess why the expansions are coming: people are moving to public transportation in droves thanks to high gas prices and concerns about the environment, SEPTA says. For example, in fiscal 2008, overall SEPTA ridership climbed by 38,000 daily trips.
Some of the 65 beefed-up services include: "more frequent service, additional peak, off-peak and weekend service and new late-night Regional Rail service." Larger buses running more frequently (every two minutes during peak hours in some areas), hybrid buses and expanded routes are all part of the deal. Next year, SEPTA's first new rail cars in over 40 years will be introduced. 180 new employees will also be hired. More details are available after the jump.

[Source: SEPTA]

PRESS RELEASE:

SEPTA Announces Largest Expansion of Public Transportation Service in Its History

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SEPTA has announced 65 initiatives to expand and enhance transportation services for growing employment, retail and residential markets, to alleviate overcrowding and improve mid-day, evening and late-night service.

Most of the initiatives will take place in September and November and come at a time of tremendous growth of public transportation, as commuters seek ways to offset rising gasoline costs and become more environmentally friendly.

"This exciting expansion is dedicated to providing our existing customers with the transit service they expect and deserve, service that is more convenient and designed to accommodate their needs," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "No doubt, these new services will attract new customers to our already growing ridership, but our prime purpose is to better serve our core customers," he said.

The new initiatives include more frequent service, additional peak, off-peak and weekend service and new late-night Regional Rail service. These measures are designed to address issues of overcrowding, assist growing employment, retail and residential markets and provide service for passengers who lack transportation while working unconventional job hours.

"This wonderful expansion of SEPTA service is a direct result of last year's passage by the Pennsylvania legislature of Act 44, which provides long-term predictable funding for state-wide public transportation," said Casey. "We again express our appreciation to the many citizens and legislators who championed this historic legislation, and especially Governor Rendell, who made it a top priority and fought hard to assure its enactment," he said.

A total of 26 new initiatives will lessen overcrowding on SEPTA buses, such as assigning larger 60-foot articulated buses on Route 14, which operates every two minutes during peak hours along Roosevelt Boulevard. The articulated buses will increase seating capacity from 39 to 65.

SEPTA will also introduce 100 newly acquired and fuel efficient hybrid buses to its fleet by year's end in an effort to improve air quality and passenger volume. The additional buses will allow SEPTA to increase the frequency of service on Routes 17, 18, 21, 23, 26, 42, 47, 70, 108 and R during peak hours to alleviate overcrowding.

Additionally, Route 124 bus service will now operate with two new morning peak hour westbound trips and more trips have been added on Route 125 to coincide with closing hours at the King of Prussia Mall.

SEPTA has also added 14 new roundtrips on Route 201 to provide better connections to peak hour R5 Lansdale-Doylestown trains at Fort Washington Station. In addition, the service frequency on bus Routes 8, 31, 40, 56, 57, 93, 94, 104, 109, 112, J and K have been improved during peak hours.

Next year, SEPTA will begin introducing 120 new Silverliner V Regional Rail cars, the first purchase of new rail cars in over 40 years. The welcome addition of these new cars will not only upgrade the quality and comfort of our rail service, but also address overcrowding on trains.

To match the changing travel patterns of its riders, SEPTA has also augmented its mid-day, evening, weekend and late-night service with 30 new initiatives to upgrade service.

New late-night weekend train service is planned on SEPTA's R5 Paoli-Thorndale, R6 Norristown and R7 Trenton Lines. Regional Rail passengers on these routes will have additional travel options to and from Center City Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday evenings that extend beyond midnight. Eight railcars recently purchased from New Jersey Transit will also be added to SEPTA's fleet in the fall to help meet burgeoning needs.

New late-night Route 37 service will operate between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. from Philadelphia International Airport to Harrah's Chester Casino to provide transit service for jobholders. SEPTA bus Route 105 will also operate new late-night service every 60 minutes while new hourly Sunday service has been established on Route 129 linking Oxford Valley Mall and Morrell Park.

These actions are a continuation of service enhancements first implemented in February with the expansion of Market-Frankford Line service and service improvements in March on select Regional Rail routes.

During FY 2008 SEPTA ridership grew by approximately 38,000 daily trips; 25,000 new Transit riders and 13,000 new Regional Rail riders. SEPTA will also be hiring approximately 180 new employees to accommodate this expansion in service.

All SEPTA passengers should pick up new schedules when they become available and look for changes to their specific routes. SEPTA information is available online at www.septa.org or by calling the SEPTA Customer Service Department at 215-580-7800.


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