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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
Angled white "S" with the word SEPTA in blue underneath. The background to the left of the "S" is blue and red on the right.
Area servedPhiladelphia and the surrounding Delaware Valley, including New Castle County, Delaware, and South Jersey
LocaleDelaware Valley
Transit type
Number of lines196
Number of stations290
Daily ridership670,100 (weekdays, Q1 2024)[1]
Annual ridership223.5 million (2020)[2]
Chief executiveLeslie Richards (General Manager)
Headquarters1234 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Began operationNovember 1, 1965 (1965-11-01)
Number of vehicles2,897 (2018)[4]
SEPTA system map

Rail lines converge to Center City Philadelphia in a hub-and-spoke model Geographically-accurate map of SEPTA and connecting rail transit services. Includes Regional Rail, rapid transit, and selected interurban and suburban trolley lines. Does not include SEPTA's subway-surface lines or Girard streetcar.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is a regional public transportation authority[5] that operates bus, rapid transit, commuter rail, light rail, and electric trolleybus services for nearly four million people throughout five counties in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It also manages projects that maintain, replace, and expand its infrastructure, facilities and vehicles.

SEPTA is the major transit provider for the city of Philadelphia and four surrounding counties within Greater Philadelphia, including Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester. It is a state-created authority, with the majority of its board appointed by the five counties it serves.[6] While several SEPTA commuter rail lines terminate in the nearby states of Delaware and New Jersey, additional service to Philadelphia from those states is provided by other agencies: the PATCO Speedline from Camden County, New Jersey is run by the Delaware River Port Authority, a bi-state agency; NJ Transit operates many bus lines and a commuter rail line to Philadelphia's Center City; and DART First State runs feeder bus lines to SEPTA stations in the state of Delaware.

SEPTA has the sixth-largest U.S. rapid transit system by ridership, and the fifth-largest overall transit system in the U.S. with about 302 million annual unlinked trips as of fiscal year 2018.[7] It controls 290 active stations, over 450 miles (720 km) of track, 2,350 revenue vehicles, and 196 routes.[8] It also oversees shared-ride services in Philadelphia and ADA services across the region, which are operated by third-party contractors, Amtrak, and NJ Transit.

SEPTA is the only U.S. transit authority that operates all five major types of terrestrial transit vehicles: regional commuter rail trains, rapid transit subway and elevated trains, light rail trolleys, trolleybuses, and motorbuses. This title was shared with Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which also ran ferryboat service, until trolleybuses in Greater Boston were officially discontinued in 2023.[9]




The former SEPTA Route 6 trolley in Philadelphia, c. 1980

SEPTA was created by the Pennsylvania legislature on August 17, 1963, to coordinate government funding to various transit and railroad companies in southeastern Pennsylvania. It commenced on February 18, 1964.[10]

On November 1, 1965, SEPTA absorbed two predecessor agencies:

  • The Passenger Service Improvement Corporation (PSIC), was created on January 20, 1960, to work with the Reading Company and Pennsylvania Railroad to improve commuter rail service and help the railroads maintain otherwise unprofitable passenger rail service.
  • The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Compact (SEPACT), was created September 8, 1961, by the City of Philadelphia and the Counties of Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester to coordinate regional transport issues.
SEPTA logo 1970s

By 1966, the Reading Company and Pennsylvania Railroad commuter railroad lines were operated under contract to SEPTA. On February 1, 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with the New York Central railroad to become Penn Central, only to file for bankruptcy on June 21, 1970. Penn Central continued to operate in bankruptcy until 1976, when Conrail took over its assets along with those of several other bankrupt railroads, including the Reading Company. Conrail operated commuter services under contract to SEPTA until January 1, 1983, when SEPTA took over operations and acquired track, rolling stock, and other assets to form the Railroad Division.

Subsequent expansion

The entrance to the 15–16th & Locust station on Locust Street in Center City Philadelphia, which serves as both a SEPTA and PATCO station
The concourse at the Walnut–Locust station
The above-ground Market–Frankford Line in the Kensington section of Philadelphia

Like New York City's Second Avenue Subway, the original proposal for the Roosevelt Boulevard Subway dates to 1913, but construction has remained elusive. Instead, after completing the Market–Frankford Line in and around the city stagnated until the early 2000s.

On September 30, 1968, SEPTA acquired the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC), which operated a citywide system of bus, trolley, and trackless trolley routes, the Market–Frankford Line (subway-elevated rail), the Broad Street Line (subway) and the Delaware River Bridge Line (subway-elevated rail to City Hall, Camden, NJ) which became SEPTA's City Transit Division. The PTC had been created in 1940 with the merger of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (formed in 1902) and a group of smaller, then-independent transit companies operating within the city and its environs.

On January 30, 1970, SEPTA acquired the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, also known as the Red Arrow Lines, which included the Philadelphia and Western Railroad (P&W) route now called the Norristown High-Speed Line, the Media and Sharon Hill Lines (Routes 101 and 102) and several suburban bus routes in Delaware County. Today, this is the Victory Division, though it is sometimes referred to as the Red Arrow Division.

On March 1, 1976, SEPTA acquired the transit operations of Schuylkill Valley Lines, which is today the Frontier Division. Meanwhile, SEPTA gradually began to take over the Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Company commuter trains. SEPTA primarily sought to consolidate the formerly-competing services, leading to severe cutbacks in the mid-1980s.[11] Subsequent proposals have been made to restore service to Allentown, Bethlehem, West Chester, and Newtown, with support from commuters, local officials and pro-train advocates.

SEPTA's planning department focused on the Schuylkill Valley Metro, a "cross-county metro" that would re-establish service to Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Reading without requiring the rider to go into Philadelphia.[12][13] However, ridership projections were dubious, and the Federal Railroad Administration refused to fund the project.[14][15]

Many derelict lines under SEPTA ownership have been converted to rail trails, postponing any restoration proposals for the foreseeable future.[16] Proposals have also been made for increased service on existing lines, including later evenings and Sundays to Wilmington, Delaware and Newark in Delaware. Maryland's MARC commuter rail system is considering extending its service as far as Newark, which would allow passengers to connect directly between SEPTA and MARC. Other recent proposals have focused on extending and enhancing SEPTA's other transit services. Senator Bob Casey has supported recent proposals expanding the Broad Street Line to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.[17] As of December 2017, SEPTA had completed an Environmental Impact Statement to extend the Norristown High Speed Line to the King of Prussia area.[18][19]

In September 2021, SEPTA proposed rebranding their rail transit services, the Market–Frankford Line, Broad Street Line, Subway–Surface trolley lines, Norristown High-Speed Line, Route 15 trolley, and Routes 101 and 102 trolleys) as the "SEPTA Metro", in order to make the system easier to navigate.[20][21] Under this proposal, new maps, station signage, and line designations would be created. Under the proposed nomenclature, trunk lines would receive a letter and a color, with services having a numeric suffix and service name, to make wayfinding easier.[22] Services on the current Market–Frankford Line, for instance, would be called "the L" and colored blue, with local service becoming the "L1 Market–Frankford Local".[23] SEPTA budgeted $40 million to June 2023 for the rebranding.[24] SEPTA upgraded its website in late 2023[25][26] in advance of the planned rollout of SEPTA Metro in 2024.[27]



At its founding in 1968, the board had 11 members. In 1991 the state legislature added four additional members, giving themselves more influence on the board.[28]

SEPTA is governed by a 15-member board of directors:

  • The City of Philadelphia appoints two members: one member is appointed by the Mayor, the other by the City Council President. These two board members can veto any item that is approved by the full SEPTA board because the city represents more than two-thirds of SEPTA's local funding, fare revenue, and ridership. However, the veto may be overridden with the vote of at least 75% of the full board within 30 days.
  • Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties appoint two members each. These members are appointed by the county commissioners in Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery and by the county council in Delaware.
  • The majority and minority leaders of the two houses of the Pennsylvania State Legislature (the Senate and the House of Representatives) appoint one member each, for a total of four members.
  • The governor appoints one member.

The members of the SEPTA Board as of March 2023 are:[29]

Name Appointed by
Michael A. Carroll City of Philadelphia
Richard R. Harris, Esquire
Kenneth Lawrence Jr. (Chairman) Montgomery County
Robert D. Fox
Robert J. Harvie, Jr. Bucks County
John F. Cordisco
Kevin L. Johnson Chester County
Marian D. Moskowitz (Vice chair)
Daniel R. Muroff, Esq. Delaware County
Mark H. Dambly
Scott C. Freda Pennsylvania Governor
Thomas J. Ellis Senate Majority Leader
William J. Leonard Senate Minority Leader
Esteban Vera Jr. House Majority Leader
Martina White House Minority Leader

The day-to-day operations of SEPTA are handled by the general manager, who is appointed and hired by the board of directors. The general manager is assisted by nine department heads called assistant general managers.

The present general manager is Leslie Richards. Past general managers include Jeffrey Knueppel, Joseph Casey, Faye L. M. Moore, Joseph T. Mack, John "Jack" Leary, Louis Gambaccini, and David L. Gunn. Past acting general managers include James Kilcur and Bill Stead.

SEPTA is a member of the Northeast Corridor Commission, a federal commission on Northeast Corridor rail service.


SEPTA Ridership (millions of unlinked trips)[2]

In 2020, annual ridership was 223.5 million individual rides. 17.1 million were rides on SEPTA's suburban network. 26.3 million were rides on SEPTA's "regional rail" network. 180.1 million were rides on SEPTA's "city transit" network.[2]

Ridership had decreased 13% from 2014 to 2019 due to many factors. Some explanations mentioned by SEPTA for this decrease are "increased competition, structural changes in ridership patterns, and moderate gas prices." The 24% decrease in ridership from 2019 to 2020 was mostly attributable to the impact of government-implemented lock-downs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in mid-March 2020.[2]



SEPTA's public services consist of three main networks: SEPTA Metro, bus operations, and regional rail.[30]



As of 2024, SEPTA is in the process of rolling out SEPTA Metro, a unified brand for its urban rail transit services, including rapid transit, trolley, and interurban services.[30][31] SEPTA has the largest trolley system in the United States.[32]

Line Train Pre-Metro name Description Transit type West / North terminus East / South terminus Operating hours Weekday ridership (Fall 2023)[33]
Market–Frankford Line Market Street Elevated

Market Street Subway

Kensington–Frankford Elevated

Rapid transit 69th Street Transit Center Frankford Transit Center 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Overnight "Owl" shuttle bus from 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

Broad Street Line Broad Street Subway Local Fern Rock Transit Center NRG 79,155
Broad Street Subway Express Walnut–Locust

NRG (limited)

Weekdays: 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Broad–Ridge Spur Fern Rock Transit Center

Olney Transit Center (limited)

8th–Market Weekdays: 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturdays: 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Route 10 Lancaster Avenue trolley line Trolley (subway-surface) 63rd–Malvern / Overbrook 13th Street 24 hours per day 8,302
Route 34 Baltimore Avenue trolley line 61st–Baltimore / Angora 4:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. 8,800
Route 13 Chester Avenue trolley line Yeadon

Darby Transit Center (limited)

24 hours per day 8,739
Route 11 Woodland Avenue trolley line Darby Transit Center 4:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. 9,381
Route 36 Elmwood Avenue trolley line 80th and Eastwick or Elmwood Depot (Owl Service) 24 hours per day 9,465
Route 15 Girard Avenue trolley line Trolley (surface) 63rd–Girard Richmond–Westmoreland 24 hours per day 4,762
Route 101 Media trolley line Light rail Orange Street / Media 69th Street Transit Center Weekdays: 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Weekends: 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Route 102 Sharon Hill trolley line Chester Pike / Sharon Hill 2,718
Route 100 Norristown High Speed Line Interurban/Light rapid transit powered by third rail Norristown Transit Center 4:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. 4,510



SEPTA lists 115 bus routes, not including about two dozen school trips, with most routes in the City of Philadelphia proper. SEPTA generally employs lettered, one-digit, and two-digit route numbering for its City Division routes; 90-series and 100-series routes for its Suburban Division routes; 200-series routes for its Regional Rail connector routes; 300-series routes for other specialized or third-party contract routes; and 400-series routes for limited-service buses to schools within Philadelphia.



Trolleybuses, or trackless trolleys as they are called by SEPTA, operate on routes 59, 66, and 75. Service resumed in spring 2008 after a nearly five-year suspension.[34] Until June 2002, five SEPTA routes were operated with trackless trolleys, using AM General vehicles built in 1978–79. Routes 29, 59, 66, 75 and 79 used trackless trolleys, but were converted to diesel buses for an indefinite period starting in 2002 (routes 59, 66, 75) and 2003 (routes 29, 79).

The aging AM General trackless trolleys were retired and in February 2006, SEPTA placed an order for 38 new low-floor trackless trolleys from New Flyer Industries, enough for routes 59, 66 and 75, and the pilot trackless trolley arrived for testing in June 2007.[35] The vehicles were delivered between February and August 2008. Trackless trolley service resumed on Routes 66 and 75 on April 14, 2008, and on Route 59 the following day, but was initially limited to just one or two vehicles on each route, as new trolley buses gradually replaced the motorbuses serving the routes over a period of several weeks.[36]

The SEPTA board voted in October 2006 not to order additional vehicles for Routes 29 and 79, and those routes permanently became non-electric.[34][37]

Regional rail


On January 1, 1983, SEPTA took over the commuter rail services formerly operated by Conrail under contract and reorganized them as Regional Rail. This division operates 13 lines serving more than 150 stations covering most of the five-county southeastern Pennsylvania region. It also runs trains to Wilmington and Newark in Delaware and Trenton and West Trenton in New Jersey. Daily ridership on the regional rail network averaged 58,713 in 2023, with the Lansdale/Doylestown, Paoli/Thorndale, and Trenton lines each receiving over 7,000 riders per day.[38]

Most of the cars used on the lines were built between 1976 and 2013. After building delays, the first Silverliner V cars were introduced into service on October 29, 2010. These cars represent the first new electric multiple units purchased for the Regional Rail system since the completion of the Silverliner IV order in 1976 and the first such purchase to be made by SEPTA.[39] As of March 19, 2013, all Silverliner V cars are in service and make up almost one-third of the current 400 car Regional Rail fleet, which are replacing the older, aging fleet.[40]

In July 2016, a serious structural flaw, including cracks in a weight-bearing beam on a train car's undercarriage, was discovered during an emergency inspection to exist in more than 95% of the 120 Silverliner V cars in the SEPTA regional rail fleet. SEPTA announced that it would take "the rest of the summer" to repair and would reduce the system's capacity by as much as 50%. In addition to regular commuter rail service, the loss of system capacity was also expected to cause transportation issues for the Democratic National Convention being held in Philadelphia on the week of July 25, 2016.[41]

Operational divisions


SEPTA has three major operating divisions: City Transit, Suburban, and Regional Rail. These divisions reflect the different transit and railroad operations that SEPTA has assumed. SEPTA also offers CCT Connect paratransit service.

City Transit Division

A white single-car trolley in street running. On-street parking combined with double track on a two-lane street leaves limited room for automobile maneuverability.
SEPTA's Route 34 trolley in the 4500 block of Baltimore Pike

The City Transit Division operates routes mostly within Philadelphia, including buses, subway–surface trolleys, one surface trolley line, the Market–Frankford Line, and the Broad Street Line. SEPTA City Transit Division surface routes include bus and trackless trolley lines. Some city division routes extend into Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks counties. This division is the descendant of the Philadelphia Transportation Company. Aside from the two heavy rail lines, the City Transit Division has eight operating depots in this division: five of these depots only operate buses, one is a mixed bus/trackless trolley depot, one is a mixed bus/streetcar depot and one is a streetcar-only facility.

Suburban Division


Victory District

SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line at the Gulph Mills station in Gulph Mills

The Victory District operates suburban bus and trolley or light rail routes that are based at 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby in Delaware County. Its light rail routes comprise the Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100) that runs from 69th Street Transportation Center to Norristown Transportation Center and the SEPTA Surface Media and Sharon Hill Trolley Lines (Routes 101 and 102). This district is the descendant of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, also known as the Red Arrow Lines. Some residents of the Victory District operating area still refer to this district as the "Red Arrow Division".

Frontier District


The Frontier District operates suburban bus routes that are based at the Norristown Transportation Center in Montgomery County and bus lines that serve eastern Bucks County. This district is the descendant of the Schuylkill Valley Lines in the Norristown area and the Trenton-Philadelphia Coach Lines in eastern Bucks County. SEPTA took over Schuylkill Valley Lines operations on March 1, 1976. SEPTA turned over the Bucks County routes (formerly Trenton-Philadelphia Coach Line Routes, a subsidiary of SEPTA) to Frontier Division in November 1983.

Suburban contract operations


Krapf Transit operates one bus line under contract to SEPTA in Chester County: Route 204 between Paoli Regional Rail Station and Eagleville. This route is operated from Krapf's own garage, located in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Krapf has operated three other bus routes for SEPTA in the past. Route 202 (West Chester to Wilmington), Route 207 (The Whiteland WHIRL) and Route 208 (Strafford Train Station to Chesterbrook) are no longer operating.

SEPTA contracted bus operations before in Chester County. SEPTA and Reeder's Inc. joined forces in 1977 to operate three bus routes out of West Chester. These routes were Route 120 (West Chester to Coatesville), Route 121 (West Chester to Paoli), and Route 122 (West Chester to Oxford). Bus service between West Chester and Coatesville was a replacement for the previous trolley service operated by West Chester Traction. SEPTA replaced two of the routes with their own bus service. Route 122 service was replaced by SEPTA's Route 91 in July 1982, after only one year of service. Route 91 was eliminated due to lack of ridership.

Route 121 was replaced by SEPTA's Route 92 in October 1982. This service continues to operate today. Since ridership on the Route 120 was strong it continued to operate under the operations of Reeder's Inc. even after SEPTA pulled the funding source. Krapf purchased the Reeder's operation in 1992 and designated the remaining (West Chester to Coatesville) bus route as Krapf Transit "Route A". Route 205 (Paoli Station to Chesterbrook) was formerly operated by Krapf until late 2019, when it was merged into SEPTA's own Route 206 (Paoli Station to Great Valley).

Railroad Division

A SEPTA Silverliner IV at Fern Rock Transportation Center in the Fern Rock section of Philadelphia

The Railroad Division[42] operates 13 commuter railroad routes that begin in Center City Philadelphia and radiate outwards, terminating in intra-city, suburban and out-of-state locations.

This division is the descendant of the six electrified commuter lines of the Reading Company (RDG), the six electrified commuter lines of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR, later Penn Central: PC), and the new airport line constructed by the City of Philadelphia between 1974 and 1984.

With the construction and opening of the Center City Commuter Connection Tunnel in 1984, lines were paired such that a former Pennsylvania Railroad line was coupled with a former Reading line. Seven such pairings were created and given route designations numbered R1 through R8 (with R4 not used). As a result, the routes were originally designed so that trains would proceed from one outlying terminal to Center City, stopping at 30th Street Station, Suburban Station and Jefferson, formerly Market East Station, then proceed out to the other outlying terminal assigned to the route. Since ridership patterns have changed since the implementation of this plan, SEPTA removed the R-numbers from the lines in July 2010 and instead refers to the lines by the names of their termini.

The out-of-state terminals offer connections with other transit agencies. The Trenton Line offers connections in Trenton, New Jersey to NJ Transit (NJT) or Amtrak for travel to New York City. Plans exist to restore NJT service to West Trenton, New Jersey, thus offering a future alternate to New York via the West Trenton Line and NJT. Another plan offers a connection for travel to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. via MARC, involving extensions of the SEPTA Wilmington/Newark Line from Newark, Delaware, an extension of MARC's Penn service from Perryville, Maryland, or both.

CCT Connect

A SEPTA CCT Connect paratransit bus in Hatboro

CCT Connect is a paratransit service from SEPTA that offers a Shared-Ride Program for senior citizens and ADA Paratransit Service for people with disabilities.[43] The Shared-Ride Program provides a door-to-door ridesharing service through advance reservations for senior citizens age 65 or older in the city of Philadelphia for travel within the city and to points within 3 miles (4.8 km) of the city's borders.[43][44]

The ADA Paratransit Service provides door-to-door service through advance reservations for people with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), allowing for travel across the SEPTA service area within 34 mile (1.2 km) of fixed-route transit service when such service operates.[43][45] CCT Connect is operated by third-party contractors for SEPTA.

Easton Coach, First Transit, MV Transportation, and Total Transit Corp. operate CCT Connect service in Philadelphia County; Easton Coach operates CCT Connect service in Bucks County; Krapf Transit operates CCT Connect service in Chester County; Community Transit of Delaware County operates CCT Connect service in Delaware County; and First Transit operates CCT Connect service in Montgomery County.[46]



SEPTA is considered a non-profit.[47] SEPTA gets income from passenger fares, investments, and multiple government agencies to cover operating costs.[2]

Operating costs


SEPTA had $1,530,984,000 in total operating expenses for the fiscal year of 2021. $1,088,773,000 (71.1%) of those expenses are considered "Labor and Fringe Benefits". $331,432,000 (21.6%) of those expenses are "Material and Services" costs. $27,313,000 (1.8%) are due to "Propulsion Power" costs. $26,026,000 (1.7%) are due to "Fuel" costs. $24,711,000 (1.6%) are for "Injury and Damage Claims". $23,875,000 (1.6%) are due to "Depreciation/Contributed Capital" costs. The last $8,854,000 (.5%) in costs are due to "Vehicle and Facility Rentals".[2]

Operating revenue


To cover 35% of their operating costs, SEPTA receives $541,768,000 in operating revenue, which includes: $480,574,000 (88.7%) from passenger revenue, $16,250,000 (3%) from SEPTA's "Shared Ride Program", $42,188,000 (7.8%) from "Other Income", and $2,756,000 (.5%) from "Investment Income".[2]

Government funding


To make up for the $989,200,000 gap in operating expenses for FY2021, SEPTA receives 65% of its FY2021 income from federal, state, and local government funding. SEPTA receives this financial support in the form of direct funding, grants, income from a Pennsylvanian sales tax, proceeds from state bond programs, and lease funding.[2]

$779,842,000 (78.8%) of SEPTA's funding short-fall is covered by a combination of state government funding. $111,986,000 (11.3%) of SEPTA's funding short-fall is covered by local government programs. $93,028,000 (9.4%) of SEPTA's funding short-fall is covered by the Federal government. $4,360,000 (.5%) of the gap is covered by "Other" means.[2]

As of June 2022, SEPTA no longer receives $180,000,000 annually from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as a result of Act 89, signed into law in 2013. Under Act 89, this funding became $50,000,000 for the 2023 fiscal year, and will eventually become nothing.[48]



Rides on SEPTA's transit services (buses, rapid transit, trolleys, and trackless trolleys) cost $2.50 when using cash or a Quick Trip. This must be paid in exact change. Electronic payment methods offer single rides on transit for $2, and allow transfers from one SEPTA transit service to another. This includes two free transfers. A number of interchanges between rapid transit lines can be used for free, without a transfer.

Fares on Regional Rail are based on fare zones reflecting the station's distance from Center City Philadelphia. Fares are higher during the day on weekdays and lower during evenings and on weekends. SEPTA also offers intermediate fares for trips on Regional Rail that do not go through Center City Philadelphia and "via Center City Philadelphia" fares that can be used between two outlying stations that require travel through Center City Philadelphia.[49]

Fares for the CCT Connect service cost $4.25.[50]



Several types of passes are available that allow a certain number of trips on transit and/or Regional Rail for a specified amount of time. These passes are only available on a SEPTA Key card. Paper passes have been discontinued.

The TransPass costs $25.50 weekly and $96 monthly and can be used for all transit rides within the time period. The TransPass is valid on Regional Rail for riders traveling between Zone 1 and Center City stations or the Airport Line. The TransPass can be used anywhere on Regional Rail on weekends and major holidays.[51]

The TrailPass is available either weekly or monthly and can be used on Regional Rail up to the zone printed on the pass along with all transit rides within the time period. Prices for the TrailPass are based on fare zones reflecting distance from Center City Philadelphia. TrailPasses have anywhere privileges on weekends and major holidays.[52]

The Cross County Pass costs $30.75 weekly and $115 monthly and can be used for all transit rides and all Regional Rail trips outside Center City Philadelphia within the time period. The pass can be used with a payment of an additional Zone 1 fare for travel into Center City Philadelphia. Cross County Passes have anywhere privileges on weekends and holidays.[53]

The One-Day Anywhere FleX Pass, formerly called the One-Day Independence Pass, can be used for up to 10 trips in one day on transit and Regional Rail services, with an individual pass $13 and a three-pass bundle $35. An additional charge of $3.75 per individual pass must be paid for Regional Rail travel in New Jersey.[54]

The One-Day Neighborhood FleX Pass can be used on transit and Regional Rail, between Zone 2 and Center City Stations for 10 trips costing $10 for one day and $27 for a three-pass bundle. Additional surcharge applies to riders using the Neighborhood FleX Pass beyond Zone 2 stations on Regional Rail.[55]

The One-Day Convenience Pass allows for 8 rides on transit services in one day for $6, while the Three-Day Convenience Pass allows for 24 rides on transit services in a 72-hour period for $15.00. The pass is not valid on Regional Rail.[56]

SEPTA offers the SEPTA Key University Pass to college students at University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, University of the Arts, and Saint Joseph's University.[57] These passes can be monthly or semester-based, and allow 960 rides over the course of the semester; fares are discounted by approximately 10 percent.

Reduced fares


SEPTA allows senior citizens to apply for Senior Fare Cards.[58] This allows them to ride transit services and Regional Rail trains in Pennsylvania for free with identification; fares on Regional Rail trains operating to Delaware or New Jersey are half the weekday fare. Disabled persons may apply for a Reduced Fare Card.[59] This allows them to ride transit services for half price and Regional Rail trains for half the weekday fare with identification.

SEPTA allows all children under the age of 12 to ride for free with a fare-paying adult. Children riding alone must pay regular fares.[60] SEPTA offers special fares for students in K–12 schools who ride SEPTA to get to school. The SEPTA Key Student Fare Card program provides students with a SEPTA Key card that can be used for up to 8 trips per school day, between 5:30 AM and 8:00 PM. Cards can be upgraded to be used on Regional Rail.[61]

SEPTA is currently partnering with the City of Philadelphia on running a 2-year pilot program that will allow 25,000 residents who live near or below the Poverty threshold to ride services for free.[62] Riders cannot apply on their own. 90% of them will be selected randomly based on age and income, and the remaining 10% will be enrolled through a number of community organizations.

Payment methods

The SEPTA key fare kiosk at the King of Prussia Transit Center in King of Prussia

SEPTA stations and vehicles are equipped with turnstiles, scanners, and fare boxes that accept various types of payment methods depending on the mode of transit: SEPTA Key, Key Tix (transit only), Quick Trips (transit station turnstiles, from Center City Regional Rail Stations, and the Airport Line), cash (buses, trolleys, and trolleybuses only), and NFC (currently transit only). Fares on Regional Rail can be paid to a conductor onboard the train using cash or a credit card; these fares are more expensive than those purchased using a SEPTA Key card.

SEPTA stations have Fare Kiosks that can be used to purchase Key cards and Quick Trips, and also replenish the Travel Wallet.



The SEPTA Key card is a smart card that can be used on SEPTA's transit services and Regional Rail.[63] The card replaced tokens, paper tickets, and paper passes; it is now the preferred method of payment on SEPTA services. In addition to storing passes, the card has a travel wallet that can be reloaded online, at kiosks, SEPTA Sales Offices, and participating retailers. Reduced fare cards issued to the elderly and the disabled are special cards that are printed with photo ID.

Key Tix


In August 2022, SEPTA introduced the ability to pay for transit rides using electronic tickets that can be bought through the SEPTA mobile apps for Android and iOS. Once a ticket is activated, the app displays a QR code that can be read at scanners and turnstiles. In addition to allowing discounted rides and free transfers, multiple passengers can use the same ticket. After a limited pilot program, the feature was released to the general public in December 2022.[64]

Quick Trip


Quick Trips are magnetic strip cards that can be used for a single ride from transit stations with turnstiles, Center City Regional Rail Stations, or the Airport Line. They can be purchased at Fare Kiosks and cost $2.50 for transit and the price varies by zone and time of day on Regional Rail. They do not allow free transfers, except at free interchange stations in Center City at the 13th, 15th, and 30th Street Stations.

NFC Payments


In July 2023, SEPTA launched a limited pilot program to allow passengers to pay for transit trips using contactless credit cards and digital wallets on NFC-enabled phones and smart watches.[65] This feature was made available to the general public for transit rides on September 29, 2023. Availability on Regional Rail is planned for 2024.[66]

PATCO Freedom Card


The Freedom Share Card fare card used by the PATCO Speedline is accepted on all SEPTA services except Regional Rail. The card is read at SEPTA Key card readers.[67]

Paper Tickets


Paper tickets were used on Regional Rail. Sales were discontinued in 2020. Valid tickets were still accepted on trains until April 1, 2021. As of April 2, 2021, previously purchased paper tickets were no longer accepted on Regional Rail.



SEPTA tokens could be used on transit services for discounted fares. Each token cost $2, and they could only be purchased in packs of 2, 5, or 10. The usage of tokens predates the formation of SEPTA, having been employed by various transit agencies since the 1880s.[68] Philadelphia was the last major US city to utilize tokens for transit fare payments. Token sales were discontinued on April 30, 2018, and the token vending machines were removed from transit stations. Previously sold tokens could be redeemed at fare kiosks and their value could be loaded onto the Travel Wallet of the SEPTA Key card.[69] Effective January 1, 2024, SEPTA no longer accepts tokens at vehicle fareboxes or fare kiosks.[70]

Transit police

A SEPTA Transit Police car in Center City Philadelphia

SEPTA established its current Transit Police Department in 1981. It now has about 260 officers operating in seven patrol zones. It maintains a patrol, bicycle, and police dog unit, and a Special Operations Response Team trained to deal with potential hostage situations.[71] In May 2023, Charles Lawson was appointed chief of the Transit Police, after serving as acting chief since July 2022.[72]




A SEPTA Nova Bus, 2016

In 1982, SEPTA ordered buses from Neoplan USA, a purchase that was both the largest for Neoplan at the time and SEPTA's largest to date. These buses were used throughout the SEPTA service area. SEPTA changed its specifications on new bus orders each year. The Neoplan AK's (numbered 8285–8410), which was SEPTA's first Neoplan order, had longitudinal seating: all of the seats face towards the aisle. Their suburban counterparts (8411–8434) had longitudinal seating only in the rear of the bus. The back door has a wheelchair ramp, which forced SEPTA officials to limit its use and specify wheelchair lifts in their next order. These buses had a nine-liter 6v92 engine and Allison HT-747 transmission.

In 1983, SEPTA, along with other transit operators in Pennsylvania, ordered 1,000 Neoplan buses of various lengths. SEPTA ultimately received 450 buses from this order: 425 were 40-foot (12 m) buses (BD 8435–8584 and CD 8601–8875), which came without wheelchair lifts, and 25 35-foot (11 m) buses (BP 1301–1325).

SEPTA purchased additional Neoplans in 1986. The first two groups (3000–3131 and 3132–3251) came without rear wheelchair lifts; the last two groups, one in late 1987 (3252–3371) and another in 1989 (3372–3491), included them. All Neoplans built between 1986 and 1989 were equipped with a ZF 4HP-590 transmission.

By the early 1990s, SEPTA had 1,092 Neoplan AN440 coaches in active service, making it the largest transit system in North America with a fleet primarily manufactured by Neoplan USA. These buses dominated the streets of Philadelphia through late 1997 when the earlier fleet of AK and BD Neoplans (8285–8581) was replaced by 400 buses built by American Ikarus and – the same company after a 1996 reorganization – North American Bus Industries. The older GMC RTS 35- and 40-foot buses were also replaced in this order, with the sole remaining exception of No. 4462, a 35-foot coach. More replacements occurred when SEPTA received its first low-floor fleet and retired the last AN440 buses on June 20, 2008.

The Neoplan model had not entirely vanished from Philadelphia's streets by the start of the 21st century. In 1998, SEPTA ordered 155 articulated buses from the company. These buses replaced the 1984 Volvo 10BM 60-foot articulated buses. These buses have now been retired since late 2015, replaced by the 2013–2016 NovaBus LFS-A HEV.

The 1998 purchase included 89 29-foot Transmark-29 buses from National-Eldorado (4501–4580, 4581 received later), the first of which began to arrive in late 2000. Most of these buses ran on suburban routes occasionally entering the city, but some are in the "LUCY" service in the University City section of West Philadelphia, in a special paint scheme, and others on lighter lines within Philadelphia. SEPTA had decided to buy from Metrotrans Legacy, SEPTA's first choice in small buses, but the company filed for bankruptcy in 1999.

A fleet of buses known as "cutaways" were purchased. These buses were built on Ford van chassis, with bodies similar to those seen on car rental shuttles at various airports. These buses were retired around 2003 and replaced with slightly larger cutaway buses on a Freightliner truck chassis.

After evaluating sample buses from New Flyer and NovaBus in 1994–96, SEPTA ordered 100 low-floor buses (nos. 5401–5500) from New Flyer in 2001.

Trackless trolley (trolley bus) service was suspended in 2003 and the 110 AM General vehicles that had provided service on SEPTA's five trackless trolley routes never returned to service.[73] In early 2006, SEPTA ordered 38 new low-floor trackless trolleys from New Flyer, which entered service in 2008, restoring trackless service on routes 59, 66 and 75. These buses replaced SEPTA Neoplan EZs, ending Neoplan's 26-year domination.[36]

SEPTA placed an order with delivery starting in 2008 for 400 New Flyer hybrid buses—with options for up to 80 additional buses to replace the NABI Ikarus buses at the end of their 12-year life.[74] These will not be the first hybrid buses, since SEPTA purchased two small groups of hybrids, 5601H–5612H, which arrived in 2003, and 5831H–5850H in 2004.

Prior to the 2008 purchase, SEPTA borrowed an MTA New York City Transit Orion VII hybrid bus # 6365 to evaluate it in service. SEPTA was the first to purchase New Flyer DE40LFs equipped with rooftop HVAC units. SEPTA delivered 525 2017–2022 NFI XDE40 hybrid buses to replace all the diesel buses that were delivered between 2001 and 2004. SEPTA is replacing cloth seats with plastic seats on their buses that were delivered after 2008 in an effort to combat bed bug infestations.[75]

SEPTA's revenue from advertisements on the backs of its buses leads the authority to order mainly buses equipped with a rooftop HVAC, and with their rear route-number sign mounted on the roof, especially on 2008–2009 New Flyer DE40LFs and future orders.[76]

In 2016, SEPTA launched a pilot program that would see battery electric buses replace diesel buses on former trackless trolley routes 29 and 79. Using a $2.6-million Federal Transit Administration grant, the agency ordered 25 such buses from Proterra, Inc. of California, together with two overhead fast-charging stations. They are expected to enter service in 2017, returning electric propulsion to these routes after nearly 15 years of diesel operation.[77] These same busses were sidelined in February, 2020 for an undisclosed reason, but multiple agency sources blamed a defect in the buses' plastic chassis that led to a cracking problem.[78]

In 2021, SEPTA placed an order for 220 New Flyer XDE40 buses with an option for 120 additional buses. These buses replaced the New Flyer D40LF buses that were delivered in 2005 and are currently replacing the New Flyer DE40LF buses that were delivered between 2008-2009.

Model Thumbnail Propulsion Length Year Fleet Series (Qty.) Notes
New Flyer E40LFR alt3=On the roof of the trackless trolley two poles rise up to contact overhead wires. Electric trolleybus 40 ft (12 m) 2008 800-837 (38)
New Flyer DE40LF Diesel-electric hybrid 40 ft (12 m) 2008 8120-8219 ( 58 units remaining )
  • Currently being retired
2009 8220-8339 (68 units remaining)
  • Currently being retired
New Flyer DE40LFR 40 ft (12 m) 2010 8340-8459 (107 currently in service)
  • Units 8345, 8366, 8382, 8384, 8386, 8387, 8388, 8389, 8391, 8392, 8394, 8395, 8396 are retired.
2011 8460-8559 (99 currently in service)
  • Unit 8536 is retired.
Nova Bus LFSA HEV 62 ft

(18.9 m)

2013 7300-7484 (185)
  • Currently being overhauled
Nova Bus LFS HEV 40 ft (12 m) 8600-8689 (90)
  • Currently being overhauled
New Flyer MiDi Diesel 30 ft (9.1 m) 2016 4600-4634 (35)
Proterra Catalyst BE40 Battery-electric 40 ft (12 m) 2017 900-924 (25)
  • Used only Routes 29 & 79
  • Currently sidelined from service
New Flyer XDE40 Diesel-electric hybrid 40 ft (12 m) 2017 3000-3089 (90)
2018 3090-3194 (105)
2019 3195-3294 (100)
2020 3295-3409 (115)
2021 3410-3524 (115)
2022 3525-3744 (220)
  • Currently Being Delivered


The interior of a Broad Street Line train

The Broad Street Line uses cars built by Kawasaki between 1982 and 1984. These cars, known as B-IV as they are the fourth generation used on the line, are stainless steel and include some cars with operating cabs at both ends, as well as some with only a single cab. These cars use the standard gauge of 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm).

The Market–Frankford Line uses a class of cars known as M-4, as they, like the Broad Street B-IVs, represent the line's fourth generation of cars and were built from 1997 to 1999 by Adtranz. These cars use a broad gauge of 5 ft 2+14 in (1,581 mm), known as "Pennsylvania trolley gauge". In 2017, 90 cars had emergency welding to fix cracking steel beams.[79] Then in 2020 all the cars, including the ones temporarily repaired in 2017, had to have more permanent welding to fix cracking steel beams.[79]


Three abreast white trolleys with a red stripe around the vehicle ends.
A SEPTA single-end Kawasaki trolley in the maintenance yard in 1993

The SEPTA trolley fleet has three different types of cars.

The 112 vehicles used on the SEPTA Subway–Surface trolley lines (Routes 10, 11, 13, 34, and 36) were built by Kawasaki beginning in 1981 after a 1980 prototype was delivered and tested. Known as "K-cars", they use the 5 ft 2+14 in (1,581 mm) Pennsylvania trolley gauge. Larger than the replaced PCC cars they are 50 feet long and capable of reaching a top speed of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). They also were the first in North America to have unitized roof-mounted air conditioners and to have electronic control of switches at junctions. The city cars operate out of two depots, Elmwood and Callowhill.

The suburban trolley lines (Routes 101 and 102) use 29 Kawasaki-built vehicles similar to, but slightly larger than, the Subway–Surface trolleys. They use a slightly wider track gauge than the city lines – 5 ft 2+12 in (1,588 mm) – but the same wheel gauge. Wheel profiles are different and different gear ratios provide higher speeds. Notably, they are double-ended, unlike the Subway-Surface trolleys, as these lines lack any loops to turn the vehicles at their suburban terminals. Unlike the city cars, which use traditional trolley pole power collectors, the suburban cars use pantographs and are capable of a top speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).

SEPTA Route 15 (Girard Avenue Line) uses PCC cars. These cars were originally built in 1947 by the St. Louis Car Company and were rebuilt by Brookville (and renamed PCC II) for the line's reopening in 2003 to include air conditioning and a wheelchair lift. The Girard line has the same 5 ft 2+14 in (1,581 mm) Pennsylvania trolley gauge as the Subway-Surface lines and operates out of Callowhill depot. Since 2020, these cars are once again being rebuilt by SEPTA and when scheduled to return in 2023, they will feature plastic seating.[80]

Currently, SEPTA is ordering new 130 low floor streetcars that will be built and delivered by ALSTOM. These trolley cars are scheduled to enter service between 2027-2030. These cars will operate on the Subway-Surface trolleys, as well as Route 15 and the suburban trolleys.

Regional Rail

SEPTA's Silverliner V approaching the Hatboro station

SEPTA's regional rail services primarily use a fleet of "Silverliner" electric multiple unit cars. During rush-hour service they are supplemented by a small fleet of unpowered passenger cars, based on the "Comet" family of railcars, hauled by 15 Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotives.



The Norristown High Speed Line uses a unique class of 26 cars known as N-5s. They were delivered in 1993 by ABB after significant production difficulties and a change of assembly locations. These cars are powered by a nominally 600 volt top-contact third rail. They run on a standard gauge track. They are the first fleet of cars in North America to have Alternating Current (AC) traction motors.

They have running gear (trucks) incorporating design elements used on the Swedish High-Speed trains. Axle suspensions provide flexibility that allows axles to steer themselves around curves as small as 5 degrees. While the vehicles were designed for a top speed of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), the signal system allows operations at up to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h).



All of SEPTA's buses are fully accessible under the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).[81] As of February 2022, about 46% of its subway and commuter rail stations combined are ADA-compliant, which is the second-lowest accessibility rate for rail stops in the country. The New York City Subway, at 28% as of September 2021, has the lowest in the nation.[82][83]

The trolley vehicles are fully inaccessible, meaning that no trolley stop can possibly be compliant with the ADA.[84] SEPTA was sued successfully over its lack of accessibility back in 2009.[85]

Maintenance facilities

Transit Divisions
  • 69th Street Yard (City Transit Division / Market–Frankford Line in Delaware County
  • Allegheny Depot (City Transit Division / articulated and standard size buses; formerly housed Nearside, double-ended, and PCC streetcars)
  • Berridge Shops (formerly Wyoming Shops, bus maintenance, and overhauls)
  • Bridge Street Yard (City Transit Division / Market–Frankford Line)
  • Callowhill Depot (City Transit Division / bus and streetcar; formerly housed Nearside, Peter Witt, double-ended, and PCC streetcars)
  • Comly Depot (City Transit Division / articulated and standard size buses)
  • Elmwood Depot (City Transit Division / streetcar, also used as a station. Replaced former Woodland Depot)
  • Fern Rock Yard (City Transit Division / Broad Street Line)
  • Frankford Depot (City Transit Division / bus and trackless trolley; formerly housed Nearside, double-ended, and PCC streetcars)
  • Frontier Depot (Suburban Transit Division / bus)
  • Germantown Brakes Maintenance Facility (Germantown Depot, City Transit Division / bus maintenance)
  • Midvale Depot (City Transit Division / articulated, standard size, and formerly housed 30-foot (9.1 m) buses. Replaced former Luzerne Depot)
  • Southern Depot (City Transit Division / articulated and standard size buses: SEPTA board voted to not have trackless trolleys return to South Philly; formerly housed Nearside, double-ended and Peter Witt streetcars)
  • Victory Depot (69th Street, Suburban Transit Division / bus and light rail)
  • Woodland Maintenance Facility (streetcar overhaul and repairs. Site of former Woodland Depot, which formerly housed Nearside, double-ended, and PCC streetcars)
Regional Rail

Connecting transit agencies in the Philadelphia region


Local services

A silver subway train leaving a station
A SEPTA ADTranz M-4 at the 52nd Street Station

The PATCO Speedline is a rapid transit line that runs from Center City Philadelphia to Camden, New Jersey and terminates in Lindenwold, New Jersey. At the 8th Street station, passengers can transfer to the Market–Frankford Line and Broad–Ridge Spur with an additional transfer fare. Paid transfers are also available at PATCO's 12th–13th Street station and 15th–16th Street station with SEPTA's Broad Street Line Walnut–Locust station. The PATCO Speedline crosses over the Delaware River via the Ben Franklin Bridge. It is owned by the Delaware River Port Authority.

In the western Philadelphia suburbs, Krapf's Transit runs regularly scheduled buses for the TMACC between Coatesville and Parkesburg and between West Chester, Pennsylvania West Chester and Oxford. Krapf's also provides contract services to SEPTA on route 204. They also operate a free express shuttle bus from Center City to the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia as well as a free shuttle bus loop within the Navy Yard itself.

In King of Prussia, the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association runs a community shuttle, the Rambler, which connects with SEPTA at the King of Prussia Transit Center.

In the northwestern Philadelphia suburbs, Pottstown Area Rapid Transit (PART) operates five bus routes in Pottstown and the neighboring townships of Douglass, Limerick, Lower Pottsgrove, Upper Pottsgrove, and West Pottsgrove in Montgomery County and North Coventry Township in Chester County. PART and SEPTA have an agreement allowing transfers between PART service and SEPTA Route 93 buses in Pottstown.

Regional services


NJ Transit runs buses from Philadelphia to various New Jersey points. Many NJT buses stop at the Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal, which is immediately north of Jefferson Station or at other locations in Center City Philadelphia. NJT also operates the River Line light rail line between Camden and Trenton, the Northeast Corridor Line between Trenton and New York, and the Atlantic City Line between 30th Street Station and Atlantic City. Both the Northeast Corridor Line and River Line connect with SEPTA's Regional Rail Trenton Line at the Trenton Transit Center. SEPTA Route 127 connects with NJT bus and rail services here also.

DART First State provides bus service in Delaware. This service connects with SEPTA's Wilmington/Newark Line Regional Rail service in Wilmington, Delaware, and Newark, Delaware. In 2007, SEPTA bus Route 306 began service, connecting the Great Valley Corporate Center and West Chester with the Brandywine Town Center; service between West Chester and Brandywine Town Center was discontinued in 2010 due to low ridership. In February 2009, SEPTA bus Route 113 commenced connecting bus service with DART at the Tri-State Mall, allowing service between Delaware County and Delaware, and connecting with DART First State's #13 and #61 bus at the Tri-State Mall. The transfer point at the Tri-State Mall was moved in 2023 to the Claymont Transportation Center.[86]

National and international services


Amtrak provides rail service between 30th Street Station and Lancaster, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Chicago to the west, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to the southwest, and New York City, Boston, and Montreal to the northeast. SEPTA's Wilmington/Newark Line and Trenton Line run along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. SEPTA's Paoli/Thorndale Line runs along the far eastern leg of Amtrak's Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line and Keystone Corridor.

All Regional Rail routes stop at 30th Street Station's upper platform. It is a short walk down a ramp to Amtrak's gates. Other shared Amtrak/Regional Rail stations include Wilmington and Newark on the Wilmington/Newark Line, Ardmore, Paoli, Exton, and Downingtown on the Paoli/Thorndale Line, and Trenton on the Trenton Line. Amtrak also offers limited service from North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights, which are also on Trenton Line. Amtrak is faster than SEPTA, but significantly more expensive, particularly for services along the Northeast Corridor.

Greyhound and a variety of interregional bus operators, most of which are part of the Trailways system, stop at the Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal. In addition to being adjacent to Jefferson Station, the terminal is one block from the Market–Frankford Line's 11th Street station and various SEPTA bus routes. Major destinations served with one-seat rides to and from the terminal include Allentown, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Newark, New York City, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, Washington, D.C., and Wilmington. Six NJ Transit bus routes (313, 315, 316, 317, 318, and 551) originate and terminate from this terminal.

SEPTA serves Philadelphia International Airport with local bus service and with the Airport Line from Center City.

Criticism and recognition


20th century


SEPTA's 50-year history has often been tumultuous because the agency is governed at a county level rather than state level.[6] Railpace Newsmagazine contributor Gerry Williams observed that SEPTA regularly staggers from crisis to crisis, with little support or oversight originating at the state level in Harrisburg.[6] It has a long history of being at odds with the riding public and both county and state officials.[6] SEPTA has had more labor strikes than any other transit agency in the U.S., occurring in 1977, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1995, 1998, 2005, 2009,[87] 2014,[88] and 2016.

Williams commented that there is a notable lack of "any group... influential enough to bring shame on SEPTA,"[6] adding that SEPTA's chronic ills "merely reflect the broader problems of local provincialism and petty political squabbles which are so rampant within the (Delaware Valley) region."[6] The five counties it serves regularly have various hidden agendas working in the background, often at cross purposes with one another than as a unified region, a problem that has resulted in many services being severed mid-route without regard to the affected counties.[6] This factor is regularly influenced by the changing political winds at the state capital in Harrisburg.[6]

21st century


SEPTA made improvements in the 21st century that helped reverse the downward trend. $191 million of funds made available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 were utilized to make over 30 major improvements to the system, including renovations of the Spring Garden and Girard Avenue subway stations and building the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) station at Fox Chase terminal in 2010. SEPTA also inaugurated a consolidated, multi-modal control center that helps manage all aspects of the system.[89]

SEPTA was voted the best large transit agency in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in July 2012. The award was criticized by Next City columnist Diana Lind, stating that despite some outward appearances of improvement, SEPTA still largely operates under a cloud of non-transparency and continues to lack a system-wide expansion program for the future. This is most notable in the regional rail division, which suffered severe cutbacks in the 1980s and whose affected routes have been converted into rail trails, preventing a restoration of those services for the foreseeable future. When asked to produce data pertaining to SEPTA's repeated attempts to consolidate bus stops, Lind observed "the report on the project barely elaborates on the information. SEPTA's trials deserve public attention and input. The public deserves the data—show us the average times before and after the pilot. Give reader surveys. Tell us why you haven't tried another pilot on another bus line."[89]

Between 2009 and 2013, SEPTA was criticised for its use of sex identification markers on the SEPTA-issued monthly transit passes, as some transgender and gender-queer people had experienced discrimination related to the markers.[90] These markers, SEPTA said, were an anti-fraud measure designed to prevent people in the same household sharing a monthly pass.[91] However, the lobby group SEPTA Riders Against Gender Exclusion (SEPTA R.A.G.E) said that the sex identification markers had resulted in harassment, violence, and discrimination for those who did not physically match the stated sex on the pass.[92] The markers on the monthly passes were stopped in June 2013.[93]

In October 2020, SEPTA trialled the use of lean benches instead of traditional seating at some of its stations.[94] This was criticized by some as lean benches are widely considered to be hostile architecture, designed to stop homeless populations using the stations to sleep.[95] SEPTA stated that the use of the lean benches was to encourage social distancing to prevent the spread the COVID-19.[95] These trials concluded in September 2021 with the removal of the lean benches.[94]

See also


Further reading

  • Cheape, Charles W. (1980). Moving the masses: urban public transit in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, 1880–1912. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-58827-4.
  • Pawson, John R. (1979). Delaware Valley Rails: The Railroads and Rail Transit Lines of the Philadelphia Area. John R. Pawson. ISBN 0-9602080-0-3.
  • John F. Tucker Transit History Collection (1895–2002) at Hagley Museum and Library.(includes records of the pre-SEPTA Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company and the Philadelphia Transportation Company for the period 1907–1968.)


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