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Philadelphia to Consider Bus System Redesign

Philadelphia is one of many American cities suddenly beset with declining bus ridership numbers, likely in part as a result of the popularity of transportation network companies.
July 26, 2017, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Joseph Sohm

Jason Laughlin reports on shifting transportation mode choice in Philadelphia, where the arrival of transportation network companies in 2014 preceded a sudden drop in bus ridership.

SEPTA’s 123 bus and trolley routes lost about 4.4 million ride trips from fiscal years 2014 to 2016, the agency reported, which mirrors shrinking bus ridership nationwide, according to the American Public Transportation Association. The region’s bus ridership by linked trips in fiscal year 2016 was 114 million, the lowest it had been since 2003.


Compared with 2013, the last full year SEPTA operated without ride sharing in the city, the 2016 ridership loss is even more significant. Last year’s more than 161 million ride trips on both buses and trolleys was about 14 million shy of the ridership three years earlier.

In the face of such a sudden drop in ridership, SEPTA has hired Jarret Walker's firm to evaluate the region's bus system, including the creation of a two-year plan to redesign the bus system. 

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Published on Sunday, July 23, 2017 in The Philadelphia Inquirer
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