Philly police launching campaign to enforce bus lane restrictions

The goal is to improve efficiency by keeping the lanes open on SEPTA bus routes that are seeing increases in ridership.

SEPTA riders board a bus in Center City, Philadelphia, on April 19, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

SEPTA riders board a bus in Center City, Philadelphia, on April 19, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia police will join their counterparts at SEPTA and the Philadelphia Parking Authority to focus on enforcing bus lane restrictions on dedicated routes on Chestnut Street, Market Street, and JFK Boulevard.

SEPTA’s Andrew Busch said they had problems with cars blocking the crucial arteries before the COVID-19 pandemic, and as more and more workers return to the city, it’s ramping back up.

“We had started to see the trend pick up, kind of coinciding with when ride-sharing services became more popular. Now you obviously have more delivery services, and it’s not just that, but it’s, you know, people not respecting the bus lanes,” he said.

The problem is especially troublesome because the lanes getting blocked now are the ones used by the most popular buses through the city, Busch said.

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“So for most of those routes, while ridership on most of our other modes is about 55% of pre-COVID levels on those bus routes, particularly the handful or so on those that travel up and down those roadways, there’s 70% or better of pre-COVID ridership,” he said.

The goal is to eliminate congestion, especially in areas where the buses have a difficult time getting around even temporarily parked vehicles.

It’s not a ticket writing campaign, more of an awareness effort, Busch said.

“What we hope to do is raise awareness among the people who are blocking the lanes. You know that that’s not going to go, ‘you’re going to get ticketed for that.’ And we think that that’s going to act as a deterrence. Just get people into better habits with how they’re traveling on these roads.”

“SEPTA’s success is Philadelphia’s success. Making buses faster and more reliable is a key goal for the Administration as more people return to Center City for work or leisure,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement.

The enhanced enforcement effort will target Chestnut Street between 6th and 23rd streets, Market street between 6th and 20th, and JFK Boulevard between 15th and 19th streets. The effort will kick off Monday, Sept. 26.

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