SEPTA Route 53

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SEPTA Route 53
SEPTA 2142 from Pulaski to Erie Apr1985xRP - Flickr - drewj1946.jpg
A SEPTA Route 53 trolley turns from Pulaski Avenue to Erie Avenue in April 1985
Began service Pre-1890
Locale Philadelphia
Communities served Mount Airy, Germantown, Hunting Park
Start Carpenter Woods Park
Via Wayne Avenue, Pulaski Avenue, Erie Avenue, 10th Street, Old York Road
End Hunting Park (BSL Station)

SEPTA Route 53 is a former street car line and current bus route, operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The line runs between the West Mount Airy and Hunting Park neighborhoods primarily along Wayne Avenue.

Route description[edit]

SEPTA Route 53 starts at Carpenter's Woods in West Mount Airy. The street and the line wind through a restidential area, then straightens out before it cross over the Chestnut Hill West Line, near Tulpehocken (SEPTA station). No direct connection to the station exists, and the same goes for SEPTA Bus Route 65. From there the street runs in fairly close proximinty to the Chestnut Hill Line, until it moves to the south, past Chelten Avenue, while Wayne and Route 53 maintain the same course.

The scenery becomes less residential as it gets closer to Wayne Junction, where the line turns south on Clarissa Street which goes under the Roosevelt Expressway, and runs along the east side of a massive railroad yard then intersects with West Hunting Park Avenue. The line moves to West Hunting Park for one block, then moves to 17th Street until it intersects with Erie Avenue, which carries SEPTA Route 56, another former street car converted into a bus route. West-to-northbound buses use Pulaski Road between Erie Avenue and 17th Street, as did the trolleys. Both routes connected to Erie Station on the Broad Street Subway Line, as well as Germantwon Avenue, which carries SEPTA Route 23. While SEPTA Route 56 continues northeast to the Torresdale-Cottman Loop in Tacony, Route 53 takes a left turn on 10th Street, and heads north towards the former Luzerne Depot, which became an all bus garage, and is now a cardboard recycling plant.[1]

SEPTA PCC car #2605 on route 53 on Wayne Ave. at Upsal, January 31, 1969


SEPTA Route 53 was established as the Wayne Avenue Line sometime before 1890, and was expanded in 1904, 1929, and 1930. Route 53 was the first streetcar line in Philadelphia to receive PCC cars. On Sundays Routes 53 and 75 streetcar lines were operated as one route between Mt. Airy and Bridesburg. This consolidated service ended when the Route 75 was converted to trackless trolley operation in 1948.

Route 53 was "temporarily" converted to buses in June 1981 because of a bridge reconstruction project. The conversion was made permanent May 16, 1985, when SEPTA track inspectors discovered misaligned rails on Wayne Avenue forcing buses to replace streetcars forever, and it was actually extended north of the former Luzerne Depot to Hunting Park (BSL station). Today, the northbound route passes Luzerne Street and makes a left turn at Lycoming Street, where it shortly encounters the southbound segment of the route on Old York Road, only to turn left at East Hunting Park Avenue, where it reaches Broad Street near the Hunting Park BSL station again. The line heads northeast along Roosevelt Boulevard, then turns on Bristol Street, only to head south on Old York Road again, until it reaches Luzerne Street, and makes another left on its way to the intersection with 10th Street.

As of 2008, all buses along this route are ADA-compliant, and contain bicycle racks. While plans are currently under way to restore the SEPTA Route 56 line as light-rail service between 2011 and 2018,[2] no such proposal exists for SEPTA Route 53.


External links[edit]