SEPTA’s Bus Revolution

By: Hannah Koch, 284

“Unreliable.” “Infrequent.” “Not up to standard.” Phoenix Wicks (283) captures what many would consider apt descriptions of SEPTA’s bus network. But an answer to these issues may be soon cresting the horizon. SEPTA, or the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which controls almost all of Philadelphia’s public transportation, is in the process of renovating its transportation network in a series of steps appropriately titled, the Bus Revolution. Many of SEPTA’s problems date back to when Philadelphia’s transit grid was in its infancy. Andre Geffen (284) gives us more context: “The current bus system is just inherited from the trollies, and so it’s designed to serve the 1880s in Philadelphia.” It’s well known that SEPTA’s structure is flawed, a list that could stretch a metaphorical mile, including the poor spread of ridership and many underserved neighborhoods. As Andre says: “A lot of these places also have been historically disadvantaged neighborhoods, especially minority areas, which get worse service despite being higher ridership.” However, under the Bus Revolution, SEPTA is attempting to grapple with these consequential inequalities. 

Using the most up-to-date survey information, SEPTA will redraw most, if not all, of its current bus routes. This may involve combining or splitting routes, changing termini, or adding starting points. SEPTA also plans to implement better scheduling, as SEPTA buses are notoriously unpredictable when it comes to arriving on time. Andre describes the new system as “clockface scheduling,” meaning that buses will appear at the same minute no matter the hour. It is important to note that there will likely be alterations in the schedule around the start and end of school hours after the changes are set, just as SEPTA does now. 

But for many Central students, the main concern is about the two buses that service Central, Route 26 and Route 18. For more precise information, you can visit the official Bus Revolution website at, but the main idea is to expand coverage. “You might see that the time you spend on the bus is a little bit longer, but the time you spend waiting for the bus is going to be a lot shorter,” Andre remarks. It’s true, the 18 and the 26 are likely to be split into multiple different routes, but it will be an overall improvement to the mess of inconsistent terminus points and awkward roundabouts that these two buses currently experience. Phoenix speaks for the majority, if not all, of us when he adds: “I just don’t want them to do something that actually makes the system worse.” With faith in SEPTA and their team of experienced consultants, community outreach is important to make sure our neighborhoods are properly serviced and that this new system improves the quality of our commutes.

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