SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

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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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby R3 Passenger » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:42 pm

MACTRAXX wrote:4-The mid 1970s vintage "Chestnut Street Transitway" was unfortunately a problem practically from
the beginning. Search "Chestnut Street Transitway History" and one can find articles written about
this failed mass transit experiment and how it never met expectations. In the late 1990s the street
was re-opened to other vehicles and still has the two lane limitation from its Transitway days...

MAC, no sooner do you say that than the Inky has an article on it: http://www2.philly.com/real-estate/inga ... 81213.html

And, as a rider of buses along Chestnut Street myself, she sums up the current condition very accurately:
Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer wrote:Unfortunately, I was stuck on the 42 bus, trying to get across town to meet friends.

Almost as soon as I boarded at 21st Street, the driver encountered a parked car in what is supposed to be a bus-only lane. The street was jammed with traffic, making it hard to change lanes. Pedestrians passed us as we inched toward 17th Street, where a tide of humanity flooded the crosswalks and kept cars from turning right. After several light-cycle changes, the bus plunged forward half a block, only to be thwarted by an Uber pickup. Another half block on, at 15th Street, everything came to a halt: A VIP party bus lazed idly in front Del Frisco’s, one set of wheels straddling the left lane, making it impossible for anyone to squeeze past.


For a week, there was a large presence of PPD and PPA officers handing out tickets to these offenders (delivery trucks are the biggest offenders), and bus traffic sped up significantly. Then the officers disappeared and the 12 block per hour bus speeds returned.

There is a problem, but nobody wants to spend the time or money to effectively address it. Welcome to Philadelphia!
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ryanov » Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:29 am

Man, I sat on a bus for probably an extra 30-45 minutes once in DC because of UBER. The damn scourge. I won't use them at all, but people who do, the least you could do is yell at them when they make hare-brained and dangerous maneuvers.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby pjabowling » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:33 am

Septa could use the 8th and Market site for a transit hub and you could still put a building there. Part of the site is directly over the subway station and will not support a large weight.

Free bus routes on Market, Chestnut and Market would work. Septa runs near empty articulated buses through Center City all day. Those buses and drivers could be put to better use.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby mcgrath618 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:54 am

pjabowling wrote:
Free bus routes on Market, Chestnut and Market would work. Septa runs near empty articulated buses through Center City all day. Those buses and drivers could be put to better use.

Again, why would SEPTA want to run FREE buses down Market when there is a perfectly capable subway running the same route?
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby MACTRAXX » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:00 pm

pjabowling wrote:Septa could use the 8th and Market site for a transit hub and you could still put a building there. Part of the site is directly over the subway station and will not support a large weight.

Free bus routes on Market, Chestnut and Market would work. Septa runs near empty articulated buses through Center City all day. Those buses and drivers could be put to better use.

1-SEPTA would at minimum have to lease part of this property for any bus facility around 8/Market.
Do you have any evidence that this site will not be able to support a tall structure?
This site is large enough that a tall structure will not have to be built directly over the subways
below - which are primarily below 8th and Market Streets - and be set back away from sidewalks.

2-With SEPTA's "Every Dime Every Time" fare mentality allowing free bus rides on Center City
buses will likely never happen. This has good intent but with the enforcement problems that will
likely arise from a no-fare zone this will not come to pass.

Read again our replies to you in this topic...MACTRAXX
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ExCon90 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:09 pm

SEPTA has hired a consultant to do the same thing; he previously devised a new system for Houston. I think they're allowing two years for the project to be completed. Then we may see how much of it will be adopted, or perhaps rejected because "it won't work in Philadelphia." However, this does seem to be a good-faith effort on SEPTA's part to improve transit service overall. And the point made in the news story about the importance of frequency in facilitating connections is all-important.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:44 am

I doubt SEPTA is going to outright reject it. The whole reason why they paid him in the first place was because SEPTA ate a 10% drop in bus ridership, more than double the national average loss in the past year with a steady decline in ridership over the past several years. For as much as I hate Uber/Lyft, they have forced mass transit agencies across the nation to rethink their poor service.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ExCon90 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:32 pm

It seems likely that the consultant will recommend ceasing to charge for transfers; we may await with interest SEPTA's response to that. It will also be interesting to see whether he points out the need for better cooperation from the City of Philadelphia regarding dedicated bus lanes and consistent enforcement.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby pjabowling » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:21 pm

Septa just needs to simplify the system.

Bus routes need to be more direct, running on the main streets without trying to be the bus for everyone. Too many routes zigzag through neighborhoods.You should not have to consult the map to know where a bus route goes. If you look at the map of the new Septa route 49, that is not simple!

Stop consolidation - Buses do not need to stop on every corner. Make routes shorter with less stops and increase the frequency of buses.

Eliminate transfers and go to time based fares. A 4 hour pass, 8 hour pass and a full 24 hour pass. The time starts with the first tap. The KEY system can handle that. You don't have to program the system with every transfer scenario. More people using day passes means less people holding up the bus paying with cash.

Everyone else has a transpass or trailpass. Make the passes 7 day and 30 day. The time starts with the first tap.That way people can sync the start of their pass with what is convenient for them (i.e. payday). You will sell more 30 day passes because people don't have to get them at the beginning of the month. The registered KEY card insures you won't lose it.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:02 pm

True--if the pass doesn't have to be visually scanned by someone it can begin and end on any day of the month, thus cutting down on the end-of-month lines at sales windows (will people still have to top-up their cards at sales locations?). Also useful for anyone who might be out of town for a week or more and otherwise couldn't buy a pass for that month without "wasting" that interim period. Might have to use one or two weeklies at the beginning of the month, but on returning start a new monthly pass at that time. Unfortunately, I think SEPTA is still wedded to the idea of limiting weekly and monthly passes to a stated number of trips within the period of the pass--do the planners look under their beds for lost dimes every night?
Simplifying the routes is more of a problem given Philadelphia's street pattern, which is largely state-of-the-art 19th century. The planning for the 49 went through a number of iterations, with considerable public input, before they decided on the final route, which is not really intended as a through route but as a feeder to other routes, particularly centering around 30th St. station.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:31 pm

I have a couple of things to unpack here:

ExCon90 wrote:It seems likely that the consultant will recommend ceasing to charge for transfers; we may await with interest SEPTA's response to that. It will also be interesting to see whether he points out the need for better cooperation from the City of Philadelphia regarding dedicated bus lanes and consistent enforcement.


He did, if you look at the document found here https://cloud.septa.org/s/ayAqdDchL2j7UOx on page 74. About the city of philadelphia on page 9:
SEPTA does not fully control quality of transit in the
city. The City of Philadelphia government has at least
as much power over the success of transit. For example,
the city controls the layout of streets, which determines
how fast and reliably transit can operate, and it controls
the planning of development, which determines where
transit demand will be. As a result, the City needs to
form its own transit policies and priorities, to ensure that
all of its actions are consistent with its own intentions for
transit in the city


Same thing to Pjabowling, the points you bring up were explicitly mentioned in the report.

One point I do wish to make, This is a coices report, as is explained here:
The report is called a Choices Report because it lays out choices rather
than recommendations. If the goal of a system redesign were increased
ridership, there are a series of network design approaches that could
be taken, outlined in Chapter 6. However, ridership is not the only
goal of transit networks, and many other expectations will need to be
weighed to determine if these strategies should be pursued. Ridership increasing network designs also usually trigger objections from people
who are used to the service as it is
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby JeffK » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:09 am

pjabowling wrote:Septa just needs to simplify the system.

AMEN!

Bus routes need to be more direct, running on the main streets without trying to be the bus for everyone. Too many routes zigzag through neighborhoods.You should not have to consult the map to know where a bus route goes. If you look at the map of the new Septa route 49, that is not simple!

That issue was raised over and over when the 49 was first planned, but SEPTA bulled ahead anyway. But if there were no transfer charges, there would be more acceptance of grid-based routing as a change wouldn't add to riders' costs. There is no rational reason that a short trip requiring a connection should cost more than a long trip on one vehicle. SEPTA has known for decades that transfer charges distort ridership patterns but they are unable to break out of the Get Every Last Dime mindset.

Stop consolidation - Buses do not need to stop on every corner. Make routes shorter with fewer [less] stops and increase the frequency of buses.

Increasing frequency will be difficult in the absence of more vehicles and drivers. That said, very few other systems have stops every block. SEPTA and the city need to work on pushing this idea through regardless of complaints from people who aren't willing to walk an extra half-block. Yes, there are people who can't walk extra, but there should be ways to address their needs without slowing every bus route.

Eliminate transfers and go to time based fares. A 4 hour pass, 8 hour pass and a full 24 hour pass. The time starts with the first tap. The KEY system can handle that. You don't have to program the system with every transfer scenario. More people using day passes means fewer [less] people holding up the bus paying with cash.

Again, successful elsewhere.

Everyone else has a transpass or trailpass. Make the passes 7 day and 30 day. The time starts with the first tap.That way people can sync the start of their pass with what is convenient for them (i.e. payday). You will sell more 30 day passes because people don't have to get them at the beginning of the month. The registered KEY card insures you won't lose it.

SEPTA's "rebuild in kind" fixation left the Key with the same calendar-based restrictions as the old passes. Theoretically there shouldn't be any reason that an electronic pass should be limited to exact weeks or months. In fact, it ought to be possible to buy a pass for other intervals as well. Why not allow a user to load 2 days, 10 days, or some other number that fits their need? OK, there may be practical reasons not to allow completely arbitrary time periods but certainly a wider range of choices should be possible.
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:09 pm

It looks like SEPTA is actually making inroads to follow up on the reports recommendations: http://www.septa.org/frequency/index.html
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Re: SEPTA Comprehensive Bus/Trolley Reform

Postby ChesterValley » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:39 pm

The inky strikes again:

https://www.philly.com/transportation/septa-bus-ridership-transit-loss-20190326.html

SEPTA has lost riders for four straight years — almost entirely from buses, the most recent data from the Federal Transit Administration showed. The transit agency lost 14 million bus trips from 2017 to 2018, the data showed, an 8 percent decline.


SEPTA has its lowest ridership in 20 years.

SEPTA has been advised to eliminate transfer fees to boost ridership, but it will be another year before SEPTA decides its transfer fee policy.


Riders, meanwhile, complain about daily frustrations that drive people away from buses, including trips canceled due to drivers not coming to work and problems with SEPTA Key, which currently doesn’t offer a family card. Parents must buy a Key card, at a cost of nearly $10 each, for every child older than 4.


I would add more, but the article speaks for itself. Something has to change, and soon
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