Should you take the ‘B’ or the ‘L’? SEPTA plan to rename subway lines looks similar to NYC signage

Officials seek to make the transit system easier to navigate, with new signage forthcoming.

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SEPTA's new signage

SEPTA's new signage is reminiscent of New York's MTA. (SEPTA)

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Big changes are coming to some familiar SEPTA train lines, with new names and signs that appear similar to those associated with New York City’s subway system.

The Philly-area transit agency will replace its current signage with what officials call “wayfinding signage.”

“The Broad Street Line, we’re transitioning over to calling the ‘B,’” SEPTA’s Andrew Busch said. “The Market Frankford is the ‘L’  … People are familiar with calling it ‘the EL,’ but transitioning to the letter L,’ ‘T’ for trolleys.”

The new signs will feature brightly colored squares with the new letter-based names inside.

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New signage for SEPTA's transit lines
SEPTA’s new signage is reminiscent of New York’s MTA. (SEPTA)

Busch says the new names will unify the rail system, at least in terminology.

“We are going through all the stations along the Broad Street Line, the Market Frankford line and the trolley line by rolling out this new signage, new nomenclature referring to the lines,” he said.

The transit agency calls the changes a “bold new customer experience.” SEPTA is moving forward with contractor Nova Industries to design, fabricate and install new signage at 27 stations on the Broad Street Line and throughout Center City to begin the transformation process.

“We’re unifying our subway, elevated and trolley lines into a single, easy-to-use network that makes SEPTA accessible and welcoming to all,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie Richards.

New signage for SEPTA's transit lines
SEPTA’s new signage aims to make navigating the transit system more accessible. (SEPTA)

According to a statement from SEPTA, the new names and signage will include the following improvements:

  • Easy to see and read colors, letters, and numbers for each SEPTA Metro line will improve visibility, clarity and accessibility for all
  • New maps and signs that show bus connections and highlight SEPTA’s most frequent bus lines, along with the entire trolley network
  • New station entrance signs and illuminated pylons to make stations easier to find
  • New “neighborhood maps” and exit signage will help riders find their destinations
  • Adjusting station names to eliminate duplicates, such as “Girard” (Broad-Girard) on the Broad Street Line and “Girard” (Front-Girard) on the Market-Frankford Line, and merging complexes, such as “15th St./City Hall” instead of having two separate station names: “15th St.” and “City Hall”

SEPTA’s website will similarly be updated, along with its app and data feeds, with enhanced wayfinding tools that will include more real-time information and new bus detour signage.

To help ease the transition, SEPTA’s current signage will remain in place for a period of time. The new signs will roll out over the next year and a half. The first example of the change can be found at Drexel Station at 30th Street, which will continue to feature new maps and wayfinding as the project progresses.

The first phase of the project will cost $4.8 million and will be spread out over 18 months.

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