This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Today’s cities, the leading information platform on urban mobility and innovation, reaching an international audience of city leaders. For the latest updates, follow Cities Today on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtube, or subscribe to Cities Today News.
Philadelphia has unveiled a comprehensive roadmap on how to increase ridership on its regional buses, streetcars, subways and railways over the next 24 years.
The Philadelphia transit plan, a vision for 2045 aims to transform the city through a series of initiatives, including more equitable, frequent, safe and environmentally friendly transport.
“We cannot fully address the systemic racial disparities among our residents, recover from the current economic crisis, and tackle the climate crisis without investing in public transportation,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
“The coronavirus pandemic and its economic challenges make transit planning more important than ever.”
The speed at which the plan can be deployed depends on funding. Therefore, different variations based on current trends in city capital budgets and possible state and federal funding describe low, moderate, and ambitious scenarios.
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The plan sets out five goals for achieving a more connected Philadelphia.
Focusing on safety, reliability and cleanliness will mean adding bus lanes to reduce delays; further strengthen cleaning and safety measures on vehicles and in stations; and improving bus stop infrastructure, such as shelters and lighting.
Environmental measures will include efforts to make life without a car easier; adopt electric battery buses “as technology allows”; and the switch to clean energy to power trains, buses and trolleys.
To make the transit system fairer, Philadelphia will reform its fare structure, including adding a low-income pass program and implementing fare caps. Other plans are to expand frequent services on weekends and achieve full accessibility on the MFL and BSL metro lines and the tram network.
The priorities to meet today’s challenges have been identified as the implementation of the modernization of the trolleybuses and the priority bus network; partnership with SEPTA on the overhaul of its bus network in order to better meet the needs of the various inhabitants of the city; supporting economic recovery from the pandemic through investments in public transport; and “ensuring that every step of the transit process is built around the needs of the user.”
Longer-term goals are to “reinvent” the regional rail system as a frequent metro-style service integrated with the entire transit network. Philadelphia will also work with regional partners to establish a stable source of transit funding and coordinate land use planning and transit investments to ensure they support each other.
Like mass transit systems almost everywhere, Philadelphia has seen unprecedented declines in ridership amid the pandemic, which in turn have resulted in declines in revenues and delays in investment.
The plan notes that although ridership has recovered “moderately”, there is concern that people will not feel comfortable returning to public transit. The possible changes towards working from home are also expected to have a long-term impact on the models and number of public transport, particularly regional rail transport.
However, the city says the fastest recovery modes are those that provide frequent all-day transit service and don’t exclusively serve traditional nine-to-five commuters.
The plan says, “Things are changing rapidly right now, but it’s a trend that makes this plan all the more important.”
Deputy Director General of Transportation Mike Carroll said, “This plan builds on nearly a decade of City-led planning, expands a history of interagency cooperation to improve transit service, and sets a vision what is the renewal and recovery of public transport. looks like a post-pandemic. “
“We also made sure to use a variety of engagement resources to inform and test ideas with residents, transit riders and non-riders,” he added.
The roadmap is the culmination of 17 months of work led by the Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS), in close collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA and partners from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Port Authority Transit Corporation Speedline (PATCO).
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Published March 11, 2021 – 10:00 UTC