SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

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SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby rugbychix » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:21 am

I was surprised there wasn't already a thread about this. I am going to assume that most of the folks who follow SEPTA related transit have heard about Philly's aggressive pitch to get Amazon's HQ2 and the associated 50k jobs. While I think that Atlanta and Austin are the most likely winners, Philly's bid is probably competitive overall. So let's assume that Philly wins, we have three possible locations:

1. Navy Yard
2. uCity Square
3. Schuylkill Yards

It seems like all three locations would have serious implications for SEPTA (not to mention the rest of Philly.) I'll give a rundown of my current thoughts.

Implications For All Sites:

-Its likely that regional rail ridership will continue to go up. This is based on the reality that many families will choose to live in the burbs rather than send their children to private schools in the city. Obviously the uptick is likely to be higher if options 2 or 3 are selected. Given the current manpower and rolling stock issues, I have to wonder if SEPTA could absorb the additional ridership without significant service degradation or dedicated capital funds. There are probably additional issues that more informed posters could speak to. I am thinking power issues on the reading side and potentially increasing existing issues with Amtrak.

-It's likely that trolly, EL,PATCO and BSL ridership will go up. The biggest concern has to be with the EL and PATCO. Does the EL or PATCO really have the slack in equipment and manpower to absorb any sizeable increase in ridership?

Implications for Navy Yard:
-Man that extension of the BSL seems to be a lot more important if you stick 50k jobs in the navy yard. Obviously the lead time on that project is incredibly long.

-Do other heavy and light rail options start to make sense? In the past we've discussed utility of routing trains via the 25th street viaduct. Maybe revisiting past proposals for extending some type of rapid transit on Delaware ave?

Implications for uCity Square and Schuylkill Yards

-Either of these options probably increases the likelihood of regional ridership going up substantially. All of a sudden every regional rail station becomes a one seat ride for 50K people. The possible implications to the system seem to be incredibly large.

-Greatly increased traffic on the upper level of 30th st station? How much extra capacity exists? Would this need to be reconfigured?

Just spitballing of course...I am curious what others think.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby mcgrath618 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:37 pm

I honestly think Philly is the solid choice at the moment, one of the reasons being that Philly has SEPTA and Atlanta/Austin have NOTHING compared to it.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby nova08 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:33 pm

A few thoughts. Also keep in mind that it is not 50k jobs overnight. It's over the course of 10-15 years.

1.) If the NY is selected, the BSL extension will be needed immediately. The BSL Pattison terminus and NY Shuttle are convenient but the regular traffic on 95 between the airport and BF bridge along with the essential one-way in one-way out of the NY already has it practically bursting at the seems during rush hour.

2a.) If SY is selected, I'd worry about the MFL. Isn't it already bursting at the seems during rush hour?

2b.) I'd expect more frequency and capacity will be needed on the RR side. Norristown, Trenton, and Wilmington lines should all have 30 minutes max headways throughout the day. And frankly I'd even look at just running the airport line every 20 minutes between the airport and Suburban. And run 1 or 2 Great Valley Flyer "like" expresses from/to Doylestown during the rush. The current expresses run just under 1 1/2 hours...that's not very good.

2c.) What's the plan for a S IV replacement?
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby Quinn » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:58 pm

rugbychix wrote:Implications for Navy Yard:
-Man that extension of the BSL seems to be a lot more important if you stick 50k jobs in the navy yard. Obviously the lead time on that project is incredibly long.


I think that, if the Navy Yard was selected, solutions would come rather quickly.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby mcgrath618 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:14 am

nova08 wrote:A few thoughts. Also keep in mind that it is not 50k jobs overnight. It's over the course of 10-15 years.

1.) If the NY is selected, the BSL extension will be needed immediately. The BSL Pattison terminus and NY Shuttle are convenient but the regular traffic on 95 between the airport and BF bridge along with the essential one-way in one-way out of the NY already has it practically bursting at the seems during rush hour.

2a.) If SY is selected, I'd worry about the MFL. Isn't it already bursting at the seems during rush hour?

2b.) I'd expect more frequency and capacity will be needed on the RR side. Norristown, Trenton, and Wilmington lines should all have 30 minutes max headways throughout the day. And frankly I'd even look at just running the airport line every 20 minutes between the airport and Suburban. And run 1 or 2 Great Valley Flyer "like" expresses from/to Doylestown during the rush. The current expresses run just under 1 1/2 hours...that's not very good.

2c.) What's the plan for a S IV replacement?

SEPTA said that they are looking for a suitable replacement for the SL IV as of this year.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby NorthPennLimited » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:28 pm

The area around North Broad and Wayne Jct has rock bottom real estate prices, and follows the city's goal of gentrifying north broad street.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby AlexC » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:59 pm

Bensalem made a bid too. It's in that undeveloped waterfront section at the end of Street Road by State Road.

Imagine an Amazon monorail from their campus over to Cornwells Heights Park & Ride. ;) Access to the whole SEPTA system, plus not-unreasonable connections from New Jersey and NYC metro area.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby Roadgeek Adam » Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:23 pm

AlexC wrote:Bensalem made a bid too. It's in that undeveloped waterfront section at the end of Street Road by State Road.

Imagine an Amazon monorail from their campus over to Cornwells Heights Park & Ride. ;) Access to the whole SEPTA system, plus not-unreasonable connections from New Jersey and NYC metro area.


Amtrak service might go up. Hopefully it would be a good excuse to high-level platform Cornwells Heights. There is no reason that station should still be low-level platforms. Especially since Paoli, Levittown-Tullytown, Jenkintown-Wyncote and Exton have seen their proposals.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby NorthPennLimited » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:02 pm

Never thought of Cornwwlls Heights.

Maybe that would boost the ridership numbers to reinstitute the Amtrak Clockers between Philly and NYC.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby nova08 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:27 am

I'm pretty sure the Clockers are not coming back. Didn't Amtrak (sell/lease/rent?) the Clocker NYP slots to NJT? At which point NJT started the Trenton/Hamilton/Princeton Expresses...which are very convenient by the way. Shame, that was the last time the Race St. was pretty active. Where as now it is just a random private car or Keystone set laying over on the weekend.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby CComMack » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:07 pm

nova08 wrote:A few thoughts. Also keep in mind that it is not 50k jobs overnight. It's over the course of 10-15 years.

1.) If the NY is selected, the BSL extension will be needed immediately. The BSL Pattison terminus and NY Shuttle are convenient but the regular traffic on 95 between the airport and BF bridge along with the essential one-way in one-way out of the NY already has it practically bursting at the seems during rush hour.

2a.) If SY is selected, I'd worry about the MFL. Isn't it already bursting at the seems during rush hour?

2b.) I'd expect more frequency and capacity will be needed on the RR side. Norristown, Trenton, and Wilmington lines should all have 30 minutes max headways throughout the day. And frankly I'd even look at just running the airport line every 20 minutes between the airport and Suburban. And run 1 or 2 Great Valley Flyer "like" expresses from/to Doylestown during the rush. The current expresses run just under 1 1/2 hours...that's not very good.

2c.) What's the plan for a S IV replacement?


There's no way Amazon selects the Navy Yard. It's too inaccessible to transit, fixing that by extending the BSL would take years, and if they're doing that they might as well go to Atlanta or Dallas.

The El can handle a bump to 20 tph at peak, if skip-stop is abolished. There are enough M-4s in the fleet to do this today. Or rather, there would be, if the M-4s weren't such shop queens that the increase in service would come at the expense of an adequate spare ratio. There might be other tweaks needed to keep the system from hanging on excessive dwell times at certain stations, i.e. 15th Street, but that can be handled inexpensively.

Regional Rail needs a frequency increase with or without Amazon. At this point, that's primarily a function of the engineer shortage, but secondarily the fare collection/conductor staffing issue. Fleet increase with the SL-VI would be nice but is dependent on acquiring new yard space for overnight storage.
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby mcgrath618 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:03 pm

CComMack wrote:
nova08 wrote:A few thoughts. Also keep in mind that it is not 50k jobs overnight. It's over the course of 10-15 years.

1.) If the NY is selected, the BSL extension will be needed immediately. The BSL Pattison terminus and NY Shuttle are convenient but the regular traffic on 95 between the airport and BF bridge along with the essential one-way in one-way out of the NY already has it practically bursting at the seems during rush hour.

2a.) If SY is selected, I'd worry about the MFL. Isn't it already bursting at the seems during rush hour?

2b.) I'd expect more frequency and capacity will be needed on the RR side. Norristown, Trenton, and Wilmington lines should all have 30 minutes max headways throughout the day. And frankly I'd even look at just running the airport line every 20 minutes between the airport and Suburban. And run 1 or 2 Great Valley Flyer "like" expresses from/to Doylestown during the rush. The current expresses run just under 1 1/2 hours...that's not very good.

2c.) What's the plan for a S IV replacement?


There's no way Amazon selects the Navy Yard. It's too inaccessible to transit, fixing that by extending the BSL would take years, and if they're doing that they might as well go to Atlanta or Dallas.

The El can handle a bump to 20 tph at peak, if skip-stop is abolished. There are enough M-4s in the fleet to do this today. Or rather, there would be, if the M-4s weren't such shop queens that the increase in service would come at the expense of an adequate spare ratio. There might be other tweaks needed to keep the system from hanging on excessive dwell times at certain stations, i.e. 15th Street, but that can be handled inexpensively.

Regional Rail needs a frequency increase with or without Amazon. At this point, that's primarily a function of the engineer shortage, but secondarily the fare collection/conductor staffing issue. Fleet increase with the SL-VI would be nice but is dependent on acquiring new yard space for overnight storage.


While I too think that they won't choose the Navy Yard, as it doesn't really fit their vision, it should be said that they only need a small amount of space immediately, with everything being completed by 2025. The BSL extension would be complete by then.
I do think that Schuylkill Yards is their best choice of ANY city, however. No one else can offer what Brandywine Realty is offering here, between proximity to Drexel/Penn, 30th St, Center City, etc...
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Re: SEPTA Impacts If Philly was selected by Amazon for HQ2?

Postby ExCon90 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:26 pm

As an aside, how would eliminating skip-stop on the MFL enable the frequency to be increased? I thought the whole purpose of skip-stop was just the opposite, and that the reason for eliminating it in both Chicago and Philadelphia was that the frequency was being reduced to cut costs, resulting in undesirably long intervals at A and B stations.
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