SEPTA’s board of directors approves Bus Revolution, set to go into effect next summer

Portions of the new network, which trims the number of routes from 125 to 106, will launch on June 1, 2025, and continue through the fall.

SEPTA bus passes through the intersection of N 17th and JFK Boulevard.

A SEPTA bus passing through the intersection of 17th Street and JFK Boulevard. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

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SEPTA’s board has approved the Bus Revolution plan, which will dramatically overhaul the transit network throughout the Philadelphia metro area starting next summer.

SEPTA says the new network will offer 30% more frequent routes and “deliver a simplified bus network.” The number of routes will be trimmed from 125 to 106, while increasing buses for frequent bus routes.

Multiple routes will be discontinued. While the plan could make bus arrivals more frequent by following more direct routes, some riders may have to travel longer distances to reach their bus stops. New bus routes will also be created.

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When speaking with reporters Thursday, CEO and General Manager Leslie Richards said it will take a while to educate riders on what’s happening.

“Waiting 60 years to do a comprehensive bus network redesign is way too long and we should be doing this process every three to five years and that’s the plan,” Richards said. “We’ll be tweaking along the way as well. We don’t have to wait that long if it becomes obvious to us that a change needs to be made. We’ll be constantly monitoring.”

It took more than two years for the plan to get approval after multiple delays and pushback from unhappy riders, including residents in Manayunk and Roxborough during early proposals by SEPTA.

Despite more than 200 public meetings in the past two years, multiple speakers voiced concerns about the revised system Thursday, as well as the potential budget shortage SEPTA is facing this summer which could result in service cuts of up to 20%.

Community members packed a SEPTA Board Meeting on Thursday where the Bus Revolution has approved during a vote. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Lance Haver said he’s a frequent rider of Route 45. While he voiced support for the Bus Revolution, he said issues, like the lack of available bus operators, won’t be solved under the plan and urged Richards to “focus on the critical issues.”

“To add those routes and to make those changes, you have to take away from someplace else and we haven’t been told what else you’re going to be taking away from,” Haver said. “I heard the General Manager talked to City Council and say there’s not going to be enough this year and she hopes when she comes back next year, she’ll be able to say there may be enough then. Focus on that.”

Lance Haver urged SEPTA CEO and GM Leslie Richards to “focus on the critical issues” such as the potential budget shortfall and hiring bus operators. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Richards told WHYY News “Everyone is aware of our funding needs,” but it doesn’t mean “that we stop and don’t continue to move forward.”

“We’re doing both at the same time and I hope I’m not back here talking to you at some point this year because the funding did not happen and we have to make other decisions if that’s the case,” Richards said.

Earlier this week, Richards said the transit agency is working to fill over 250 driver vacancies and upcoming retirements.

Here are some of the notable discontinued routes in the Bus Revolution plan:

Route 30 from 30th Street Station to the 69th Street Transportation Center will be combined with Route 43.

Route 47M. Riders are advised to take Route 47 instead.

Route 62 from Ninth and Market streets to Andorra. Riders are advised to take Routes 61, 27 and 9 to travel between Roxborough, Manayunk and Center City.

Route 78 from Cornwells Heights Station in Bucks County to Eighth and Market streets. Riders are advised to take the Regional Rail Trenton Line, Route 129 or the Bristol-Croydon-Cornwells Heights On-Demand service.

Many of the lettered routes will also be replaced:

The G will be replaced by Route 63 stretching from Lankenau Medical Center to Overbrook Station and Pier 70 Walmart.

The H will be replaced by Route 71 going between the Cheltenham and Ogontz Loop to the intersection of Erie Avenue and Broad Street by Temple University Hospital.

The J will be replaced by Route 41 looping between the intersection of West Chelten Avenue and Wissahickon Avenue in Northwest Philadelphia to the intersection of Richmond Street and Orthodox Street located in the River Wards.

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The K will be replaced by Route 26, which will go from Wissahickon Transit Center to Frankford Transit Center.

The L will be replaced by Route 51, which will go through Chestnut Hill to Olney Transit Center and Plymouth Meeting Mall.

The R will be replaced by Route 82, taking riders from Wissahickon Transit Center to Frankford Transit Center.

The XH will be replaced by Route 81 going from the Cheltenham and Ogontz Loop to the intersection of Erie Avenue and Broad Street in North Philadelphia.

On-Demand Zones for bus service will replace multiple bus routes in the Philadelphia suburbs, including Routes 78, 90, 92, 120, 128, 132, 133 and 206. Vehicles for the new service are expected to be delivered this winter. Criticism of the microtransit plan suggests ridership would drop further, and it could end up costing SEPTA more money.

Routes 4, 6, 16, 21, 23, 29, 32, 39, 47, 54, 56, 57, 59, 66, 75, 109, 135, BLVDDIR and LUCY will see no changes.

Portions of the new network will launch June 1, 2025, and will continue through the fall.

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