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In Philadelphia, Improving Bus Service by Tackling Traffic Congestion
Jason Laughlin reports on a new effort to get traffic moving in Philadelphia’s Center City area. Traffic congestion has steadily been increasing and consequently slowing down Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority buses:
Bus speeds have been declining since 2014 and now average less than 12 mph. Fifty-four of SEPTA's 83 city bus routes don’t meet an on-time rate of 80 percent punctuality. Federal Transit Administration data released early this year showed bus ridership declined by 18 million trips, about 10 percent, from 2016 to 2017.
To tackle the problem, a new pilot program will use more police officers to enforce traffic regulations and stop violations, from double parking and blocking intersections to stopping in bike lanes and bus stop zones. "It's not just the number of vehicles. It’s what they're doing. Center City's narrow streets can be almost completely blocked by a truck stopping to make a delivery, or a ride-share picking up a passenger," says Laughlin.
Bus travel times will be one of the measures used to gauge the program's success. City officials also hope that the outcomes in vehicle traffic will improve streets for pedestrians and cyclists.