The journey behind a new bus route

After three years and three revised routes, SEPTA’s planners believe they’ve come up with a winning blueprint for a Route 49 bus, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jason Laughlin reports. The process of creating the city’s first new bus line in almost a decade might be a window into what could happen region-wide, Laughlin writes, following the journey from a planner’s cubicle at SEPTA headquarters, to feedback from Strawberry Mansion and Graduate Hospital, back to the drawing board, rinse, and repeat. The public engagement and outreach process that helped develop Route 49 will likely be replicated when the transit agency takes on a region-wide bus route overhaul in the next three years,  SEPTA planner Anita Davidson tells Laughlin. The crucial aspect of the planning and revision process, Davidson explains, is the distinction between imposing a bus route on a community versus creating a line proposed by the community. Check out Jim Saksa’s 49ers coverage for a closer look at the longer, straighter bus route that SEPTA unveiled in February,

Plugging up those potholes

PennDOT will be repairing potholes on more than 60 state highways starting Monday, 6ABC reports. On the fix list in Philly: Route 3 (Chester Street), Bustleton Avenue, Academy Road, Knights Road, Oregon Avenue, and Market Street. Jim Saksa reported that Philly potholes have gone up 20 percent in 2018; the city has repaired 24,000 potholes this year and is on pace to probably reach over 40,000 potholes,” according to Streets Department Deputy Commissioner Rich Montanez.

Rethinking public procurement

Philadelphia is emerging as a leader among U.S. cities in using public procurement as a strategy to build wealth among historically marginalized groups, according to Next City’s Oscar Perry Abello. Abello talked to Econsult Solution’s Lee Huang about data ESI collected for the city on its record of contracting with Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE).  According to ESI’s May analysis for FY2016, MWBEs received 30.7 percent of Philly’s public and quasi-public procurement contracts and subcontracts. For context, New York City recorded less than 5 percent of contracts going to MWBEs — a share that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to increase, according to Abello. 

Huang speaks to a couple of strategies to give small firms a chance, including unbundling bigger contracts to allow smaller companies to compete or breaking up a longer, multiyear contract into phases.  Corporations and anchor institutions like hospitals and universities are also stepping up contracting commitments and pipeline programs, Abello writes. In Philadelphia, UCD established the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative in 2011 to connect West Philadelphia employers to West Philadelphians seeking job opportunities. To tackle bigger contracts, the recently-formed West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative connects contractors to local entrepreneurship training and grant programs and creates a larger network of small contractors, the nine West Philly business associations, and the local hiring institutions. Another resource, the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Agency Business Center, is housed at the Enterprise Center. 


Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal