Philadelphia Leaders Dream Big With New Transit Plan

The plan, which looks more than two decades into the future, seeks to modernize the city's transit system, address inequities, and improve regional connectivity.

March 1, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

University of Pennsyvlania

f11photo / Shutterstock

Philadelphia officials unveiled an ambitious 24-year plan for the city's transit system that "aims to improve the system while addressing long-standing racial inequities through a redesigned bus network and Regional Rail service, modernized trolleys, and increased accessibility across the system." The plan, reports Darryl C. Murphy for WHYY, includes both current projects and "aspirational" but as-yet-unfunded ideas.

Philadelphia Deputy Managing Director for Transportation Michael Carroll said the plan "will help the city and [the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority] compete for federal grants and align projects in a challenging post-pandemic economic landscape" while addressing the legacy of historical inequities in the city's transportation policies. "For instance, residents of color face commutes that are on average 12 minutes longer than white residents," and low-income commuters spend more on transit "because of transfer fees and connectivity challenges in neighborhoods outside of the city’s downtown core," writes Murphy. A restructured fare plan introduced by SEPTA last year seeks to address these issues and make the system more affordable.

"The plan unveiled Monday includes 30 corridors for improvements such as bus lanes, transit priority signals, and boarding islands to speed up bus service as options" and highlights the importance of Regional Rail. "This isn’t just about connecting suburban commuters downtown. More than 40% of Philadelphians work outside of the city," says City Councilmember Cherelle Parker in the article. The plan, which involved collaboration from multiple agencies and community groups, could signal a new level of regional cooperation.

Monday, February 22, 2021 in WHYY

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