SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

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SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Sun Jun 24, 2018 10:58 am

Now I know this forum is on Railroading, but SEPTA functions (more or less) as an integrated system. Responding to 17 percent drop in bus ridership SEPTA has paid 250,000 for Jarett Walker's consulting to help address this. The report can be viewed overall here: http://www.septa.org/service/bus/network/index.html. The more comprehensive report can be found here: https://cloud.septa.org/s/ayAqdDchL2j7UOx As of this time of writing, the website is down.

Two points in this report:

The route 15 trolley should be Extended into 69th street either by rail or by bus conversion.
This problem could be fixed either by extending the Girard
trolley to 69th Street Transportation Center or, far less
expensively, by converting the trolley into a high-frequency
bus line.


Regional Rail should have more headway
Two major barriers prevent Regional Rail from playing a larger role. One
is the frequency of service. Figure 106 shows the midday headways
for the regional rail lines in the city. Most lines have hourly frequency,
which is worse than most bus service in the outer areas of the city...
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby JeffK » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:56 pm

According to the philly.com story, the "driving" force behind the idea of bustituting the 15 is that trolleys are being blocked by double-parked vehicles! If this is in fact a true reading of the plan, it makes me wonder what these expensive consultants are smoking. When did letting motorists flout basic traffic laws take precedence over good transit planning? If the PPA were doing their job, those double-parkers would be fined, towed, or shoved away. There's also the issue of the amount of money already invested in the 15's infrastructure that would effectively be tossed in the can just to accommodate a few selfish car and truck owners.

Let's hope the city puts this idea where it belongs.

And as far as some other, more rational parts of the analysis go, how much effort did it take to conclude that RRD headways are too infrequent and that transfer fees are counterproductive? Just about anyone on this board could have offered the same advice for far less money :P :P
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ExCon90 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:12 pm

JeffK wrote:Just about anyone on this board could have offered the same advice for far less money :P :P

Maybe we didn't charge enough ...
Actually, it would make sense to extend the 15 to 69th St.; back in the days of the 56 SEPTA had problems with getting no cooperation from the city Streets Department to keep the tracks clear. Part of the recommendations should make clear that the city needs to be fully on board with this, not just SEPTA.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:51 pm

The report is back online, and it appears the report covers generally everything Ex-con is saying. By the looks of it, SEPTA might actually be serious about reforming some of their system in response to competition from Lyft/Uber. While I would fault them for paying for another study that tells them what they already know, I think its important to have this so when Harrisburg or City Hall questions some of the decisions they have evidence to point to like the regional rail stations raising home value. If anyone is looking for the 15, it's on page 88, regional rail integration is on page 83.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby NorthPennLimited » Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:50 pm

This is a great talking point.

In the suburbs, bus routes need updating, and should serve as feeders to regional rail.

In Montgomery county, we have circuitous bus routes, but no direct east/west service on the state roads.

The exception to this rule is the 55 bus serving route 611 (York Road / Easton Road).

There is no full-length service on route 63 (Welsh Road), Route 73 (Church Road / Skippack Pike), Route 202 (DeKalb Pike), Route 309, route 532, Route 13, Route 113, Route 132 (Street Road), Route 152 (Limekiln Pike), Route 463 (Horsham Road), Route 29, etc.

Most of the begin / end points on the Suburban Montgomery County seem like a hodge-podge.

(139 bus connects Phoenixvile -Limerick)
( 91 bus connects Norristown to Graterford Prison)
( 94 bus connects Fort Washington to Lansdale)
( 22 bus parallels the Warminster Line)

You get my drift.

Perhaps a more cohesive suburban grid system with train service running north/south and east/west bus service in Montgomery County would get more usage, with shuttle buses connecting train stations to corporate business parks and malls.

Thinking outside the box is definitely a good thing. To illustrate the absurdity, I chose a trip from the intersection of Roosevelt Blvd and Woodhaven Road to Hatfield, Pa. Normally this trip would take 40 minutes by automobile driving up Rt. 63 (Welsh Road).

Using public transportation........over 4 hours!!!
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby Literalman » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:13 pm

I've been reading Jarrett Walker's Human Transit blog for years, and I think he's smart and sensible. I don't always agree with him, but I think his advice and assistance to Septa are likely to be good.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:45 pm

Regarding the bus division, What stands out to me the most is his attack on the transfers. He states that as a result of the transfer, the routes are longer which increases delays and amplifies a reduction in ridership. By eliminating those long route and have more concentrated high frequency sectors, it can increase the efficiency of resources by reducing vehicles and manpower.

Regarding Regional Rail, "The other major barrier is the higher fare. Regional Rail fares are distance
based using a zone system. Within the city most stations are
within Zones 1 and 2 and single ride tickets (purchased prior to boarding)
are $5.25 during the day on weekdays or $4.25 on weekday
evenings (after 7 pm) or weekends. The fare for travel to intermediate
stations without going through Center City is only $3.75. Tickets purchased
on the train cost $0.25-0.75 more."

By the sound of it I think Regional Rail needs an overhaul itself. While SEPTA works well at rush hour, As a frequent rider off peak almost all his points ring true. I have tried to convert people to Regional Rail, but the most cited things are 1. It's not frequent enough and 2. It's not reliable enough. Those are reasons why I've had people balk at the Paoli line!
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby BuddCar711 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:03 am

ChesterValley wrote:By the sound of it I think Regional Rail needs an overhaul itself. While SEPTA works well at rush hour, As a frequent rider off peak almost all his points ring true. I have tried to convert people to Regional Rail, but the most cited things are 1. It's not frequent enough and 2. It's not reliable enough. Those are reasons why I've had people balk at the Paoli line!


Well the training of conductors need an overhauling itself. Apparently they don't know that a Zone 1 TrailPass is valid between Center City and Torresdale during off-peak hours (after 9:00am inbound and before 4:00pm and after 7:00pm outbound). I have challenged this twice with my Zone 2 (and both times I've won). I told them if it happens again, I'm puttng up a YouTube video.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby MACTRAXX » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:17 am

Everyone: Interesting study...But - will SEPTA actually implement some of these suggested
changes to improve the system overall?

Regional Rail: Does SEPTA have enough crews - specifically Engineers (remember-without them
there is no Railroad Division) to allow for service increases?

Instead of storing equipment some likely can be used to increase headways on lines that have
ridership increases especially in the Monday thru Friday daytime hours...

Over time SEPTA has instituted hourly service on most routes off peak. By taking a look at PRR/PC
and RDG schedules into the Conrail years service was provided differently back in the years before
SEPTA took direct control of the RRD in 1983. Busy routes such as Paoli and Lansdale traditionally
had even more frequent service which continues into the present day.

Transit: Transfers are a major problem - especially with SEPTA seeking to eliminate all transfers
for cash/token users to charge a full $2.50 fare for each vehicle. This is probably the prime reason
that there has been and will be ridership losses for the bus system in particular. This will likely
force low-income riders in particular - especially those who can not afford an alternate transport
service such as a Uber or Lyft vehicle - to stay on as few vehicles as possible to avoid transfers.

NPL: Interesting choice of trip between Northeast Philadelphia and Hatfield - as you point out a
direct routing via PA 63 would take around 45 minutes to an hour by car (longer during busier
weekday or prime shopping hours) and that a SEPTA trip via CCP would take four hours...

There is an alternate bus route - #77 - that operates between Roosevelt Boulevard westbound to
Chestnut Hill operating hourly from the RB/Cottman Avenue area. The 77 directly serves five RRD
stations: Ryers, Jenkintown, Glenside, Wyndmoor and CH West. One option would be to ride the
Lansdale Line between Jenkintown and Lansdale transferring then to the 132 bus - or - from CH
transferring to the 94 bus and then the 132 at Montgomery Mall. The trouble here is that either
option is going to take time depending on how much time is allowed for each transfer.
(14-77-RRD Jenkintown to Lansdale-132 OR 14-77-94-132)

I am very familiar with routes running between Northeast Philadelphia and the North Penn area
having relatives living in each and having to use all modes (driving and public transit) to travel
between them...

BC: Interesting problem concerning off peak pass use on the Trenton Line...I have used a Zone 1
pass on that line off peak and never had any problem remembering the AM Peak hour restriction
going to Center City and the PM Peak hour times going towards Torresdale. I remember that any
Bucks County station (Cornwells Heights and north) will be extra fare and recall asking a relative
of mine once to drop me off at Torresdale instead of CWH for that very reason...

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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:42 pm

MACTRAXX wrote:Regional Rail: Does SEPTA have enough crews - specifically Engineers (remember-without them
there is no Railroad Division) to allow for service increases?


According to this website http://www.septa.org/service/rail/improvement/training.html SEPTA has 208 Engineers with 14 assitant conductors in training. I don't know what any of those numbers mean relative to SEPTA's logistics but there is a hard count.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby JeffK » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:24 pm

MACTRAXX wrote:Transit: Transfers are a major problem - especially with SEPTA seeking to eliminate all transfers for cash/token users to charge a full $2.50 fare for each vehicle. This is probably the prime reason that there has been and will be ridership losses for the bus system in particular. This will likely force low-income riders in particular ... to stay on as few vehicles as possible to avoid transfers.

It’s already a significant problem on routes that rationally should be feeders to the BSS and MFSE. Years ago there was a kerfuffle over the C bus when SEPTA proposed a surcharge for the part of its route parallel to the BSS. They had data showing that the C is overcrowded because the cost of transfers causes riders to stay on the bus rather than switching to the subway ... of course their "fix" was to propose a punitive surcharge rather than a positive incentive like a special free transfer.

And I agree 100% that the situation's gonna be a good deal worse once the ill-conceived "no Key, no transfer" policy goes into effect. It may not hit a lot of people but many of those affected will be the least able to afford it: low-income riders who are under- or un-banked and/or with minimal internet access, who can’t maintain the needed "float" on a Key.

Regional Rail: Does SEPTA have enough crews - specifically Engineers (remember-without them there is no Railroad Division) to allow for service increases?

Staffing availability and cost are definitely a stumbling block. However... it’s not the RRD, but it seems to me that the current half-hourly scheduling on the NHSL is NOT dictated by those factors. Most consists are two cars, which requires two operators, so why not run single cars every 15 or 20 minutes? I’ve talked to a couple of people at 1234 who seemed fixated on service averages instead of absolute frequencies, but this seems so blatantly unbalanced that I really wonder what their justification is.

But - will SEPTA actually implement some of these suggested changes to improve the system overall?

I’m not holding my breath.
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