After rider pushback, SEPTA delays ‘bus revolution’ until 2024

Some residents have voiced opposition to SEPTA's proposed changes, arguing they would negatively impact Black and brown transit riders the most.

A SEPTA bus is seen traveling down a street in Philadelphia.

A SEPTA bus is seen traveling down the street in Philadelphia. (Danya Hennigner/Billy Penn)

SEPTA will delay the start of its much-hyped revamp of city bus routes amid pushback from riders. Instead of going into effect this fall, the changes won’t be implemented until 2024.

Philadelphia City Council held a hearing on the plan Monday with 60 community members weighing in on the plans. Most derided the revamp, saying it would impact Black and brown transit riders the most, and in some cases could make commuting to work, school, and medical appointments more difficult.

SEPTA’s Andrew Busch said the implementation of what’s been dubbed the “bus revolution” will be delayed until next year to allow more time for community feedback.

“It gives us a little more time to weigh this feedback we’ve been getting,” Busch said. “We’ve been thrilled with the level of engagement from the people with this and the passion everyone has for the network and wanting it to work.”

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Busch offered a new timeline for changes, which include an updated draft of the plan to be released by this spring.

“We have a series of public and community meetings about the plan that goes through at least the spring, if not into the early summer,” he said. “The plan would then go to the SEPTA board, and pending approval by the board, the major implementation, which would include things like the route changes, would be in the fall of 2024.”

Busch said the changes will not be implemented before the public fully understands the blueprint.

“There’s a lot more opportunities for people to weigh in. And we do think people are going to get more comfortable with it,” he said. “There’s always going to be tradeoffs in a situation like this. We have to weigh that very carefully, make sure that we’re providing the best service for as many people as possible.”

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SEPTA officials say the route modifications, the first in almost 60 years, are necessary to prevent drastic cuts in service when federal recovery funds run out in 2025. If the changes are not implemented, officials say that entire routes would have to be cut, which could diminish ridership, leading to even more cuts.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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