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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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SEPTA Service Planning: Meeting Changing Needs

Andrew Busch and Heather Redfern
SEPTA Media Relations

For SEPTA's service planners, major challenges come in many forms, but all tasks are carried out with the aim of providing customers with a high-level of service while maintaining efficiencies in operating.

Among these tasks are modifying or extending service on existing bus routes to anticipate future ridership demand, or provide service to new developments and attractions.

Several recent changes provide a glimpse into this process.

In the coming weeks, there will be modifications to both the Route R (starting August 1) and the Route 56 (beginning in September) to accommodate employees and customers at the new Bakers Centre, which is located on the former site of the Tastykake factory in Allegheny West. The development is anchored by a Shop Rite, and will include a variety of retailers, including clothing stores, restaurants and beauty salons.

SEPTA has been working with developers throughout the project to incorporate public transportation into the plans. This has included everything from ensuring the roadways could support buses, to the inclusion of an "island" that provides dedicated space for passengers to safely debark and board buses.

Charles Webb, SEPTA's Chief Officer for Service Planning, said this serves as a model for how SEPTA can work with developers to ensure employees and customers have public transit access to shopping destinations.

"The key with Bakers Centre was getting in on the ground floor," said Webb. "We've been able to work with the developers to make sure we're able to provide the right kind of service for our customers."

SEPTA service modifications can also help community members participate in healthy lifestyle activities. In June, the Authority extended its Route 3 bus on weekends from the end of the line at 33rd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue to Smith Memorial Playground in Fairmount Park.

A community landmark for 114 years, Smith Memorial Playground is a six-and-a-half acre facility with more than 50 pieces of equipment for children. The playground provides opportunities for children to engage in creative play and the extension of the Route 3 Bus to the facility is aimed at attracting more families to visit Smith for play and exercise.

"The Route 3 operates from Frankford Transportation Center in northeast Philadelphia to the Strawberry Mansion section of the city," said Frances Jones, SEPTA's Assistant General Manager for Government Relations. "The length of the route makes getting to the playground a wonderful option for many families across Philadelphia and will allow for new families to discover the facility, getting there safely on our buses."

Without the extension to the playground, visitors and employees have to take a walking route from 33rd and Oxford Streets. In some places, there is no sidewalk and pedestrians must walk in the street. SEPTA's Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) was instrumental in helping the Route 3 extension become a reality, submitting a written service planning recommendation and submitting testimony at SEPTA's Service Planning public hearing earlier this year.

To officially mark the service extension to Smith Memorial Playground, SEPTA representatives, elected officials, members of the CAC and local residents joined together for "Jazz at Play" at the Route 3 stop at 33rd and Cecil B. Moore on July 20. The Philadelphia Clef Club's Youth Ensemble performed John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" before attendees boarded the Route 3 for the playground to attend the facility's 's 114th birthday party.

Weekend Route 3 service to and from Smith Memorial Playground operates from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. until September.


Fresh foods are available at the Smith Memorial Playground.



To officially mark the service extension to Smith Memorial Playground, SEPTA representatives, elected officials, members of the CAC and local residents joined together for "Jazz at Play" at the Route 3 stop at 33rd and Cecil B. Moore on July 20.



A rendering of Bakers Centre, which opens in August. SEPTA worked closely with the site's developer to provide public transportation for this new destination.



The Philadelphia Clef Club's Youth Ensemble performed at the Smith Memorial Playground celebration.



Chief Officer for Service Planning Charles Webb (left) and his team review SEPTA's schedules and community maps to provide high-level and efficient service.