CENTER CITY (WTXF) - SEPTA wants to make bus rides faster and more efficient, but it’s gonna cost some shoe leather.
There could be a logical way to improve bus travel, in Center City, especially. But, will riders embrace the change?
Bus ridership – a key part of SEPTA service - is down.
The transit agency hopes a $250,000 study to redesign that service will bring it back to life. One of the key components of the redesign is so simple, it’s difficult to believe it isn’t already being done.
Trina Redford waits for SEPTA’s Route 17 bus at 11th and Market to take her home, to South Philly. Of course, if she needed to, she could pick up the “17” at 8th and Market, or 9th, or 12th or 13th...
But what if a few of those stops were removed from the route?
"I'm open,” said Redford to Fox 29’s Bruce Gordon. “I think it'd be beneficial. Walking is good."
In Philly's stop – and - go traffic, Trina's trip is more "stop" than "go.” In Center City, SEPTA bus stops are spaced roughly one very 500 feet - virtually every block.
A new consultant's study from Jarrett Walker Associates, says "best practice" throughout North America, is a bus stop every 1000 to 1500 feet — that’s half or a third as many stops.
The consultant is floating the idea of removing some bus stops to make travel more efficient.
"Can we ask someone to walk a block or two further,” asked Jarrett Walker rhetorically, “in order to get to more useful service that takes them further? So that their whole trip, including the walk time, is actually faster?”
Some riders say a bus stop every block is just plain silly.
"Sometimes I walk down the sidewalk,” said one man, “and I end up walking faster than the buses next to me, stopping at every stop.”
But what about those who can’t walk to that more distant bus stop?
"You’ve got to think about the senior citizens, the people with disabilities,” said a female SEPTA customer near city Hall.
And don't forget the views of Center City motorists. They seem to love the idea of fewer bus stops to stop buses - and the rest of traffic.
“I'm usually trying to get around them and so is everybody else,” said a man who drives Center City on occasion, “and that's a fender bender waiting to happen, right?"
The consultant’s idea is just a first step in what’s expected to be a 2- or 3-year process to revamp SEPTA bus service.
And removing some bus stops has been floated before—on several occasions—without success.