The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is a regional public authority that operates various forms of public transit — bus, subway and elevated rail, regional rail, light rail, and electric trolley bus — that serve 3.8 million people in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. SEPTA also manages construction projects that repair, replace, and expand infrastructure and rolling stock.

SEPTA serves the combined city and county of Philadelphia, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Chester County. SEPTA also serves New Castle County in Delaware, and Mercer County in New Jersey.

SEPTA has the fifth-largest transit system in the United States, with 280 active stations, over 450 miles of track, 2,295 revenue vehicles, 196 routes, and about 306.9 million annual unlinked trips. Average weekday ridership across the system is about 1,000,000 passengers. SEPTA also manages Shared-Ride services in Philadelphia and ADA services across the region. These services are operated by third-party contractors.

SEPTA is one of only two transit agencies in the United States that operate all of the five major types of transit vehicles: regional (commuter) rail trains, "heavy" rapid transit (subway/elevated) trains, light rail vehicles (trolleys), electric trolleybuses and motor buses. The other is Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

SEPTA employs more than 9,000 people. Its headquarters is located at 1234 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia.



SEPTA was created by Pennsylvania state charter on August 17, 1963, to coordinate government subsidies to various transit and railroad companies in southeastern Pennsylvania.

On November 1, 1965, SEPTA absorbed two predecessor agencies:

  • The Passenger Service Improvement Corporation (PSIC), which was created on January 20, 1960 to work with the Reading Company and Pennsylvania Railroad to improve commuter rail service and help the railroads maintain otherwise unprofitable passenger rail service.
  • The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Compact (SEPACT), created on September 8, 1961, by the City of Philadelphia and the Counties of Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester to coordinate regional transport issues.

By 1966, the Reading Company and Pennsylvania Railroad commuter railroad lines were operated under contract to SEPTA. On February 1, 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with the New York Central railroad to become Penn Central, only to file for bankruptcy on June 21, 1970. Penn Central continued to operate in bankruptcy until 1976, when Conrail took over its assets along with several other bankrupt railroads, including the Reading Company. Conrail operated commuter services under contract to SEPTA until January 1, 1983, when SEPTA took over operations and acquired track, rolling stock, and other assets to form the Railroad Division.

Subsequent Expansion

SEPTA acquired the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) on September 30, 1968, which included bus, trolley, and trackless trolley routes, and the Market-Frankford Line and the Broad Street Line in the City of Philadelphia. This became the City Transit Division. (Established as the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company in 1907 by the merger of a group of then independent transit companies operating within the city and its environs, the system became the PTC in 1940.)

On January 30, 1970, SEPTA acquired the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, also known as the Red Arrow Lines, which included the Philadelphia and Western Railroad (P&W) route now called the Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100), the Media and Sharon Hill Lines (Routes 101 and 102), and several suburban bus routes in Delaware County. Today, this is the Victory Division, though it is sometimes referred to as the Red Arrow Division.

In 1976, SEPTA acquired the Schuylkill Valley Lines, which is today the Frontier Division.

2005 Strike

SEPTA's contracts with its transportation employees in the City, Victory, and Frontier Divisions expired in April and May 2005. After working without a contract for the next few months, the Transport Workers Union Local 234 and the United Transportation Union Local 1594 set a final deadline of October 31, 2005 at 12:01 AM, at which point the unions would strike if a new deal was not reached. The main disagreement between SEPTA management and union leadership was regarding employees' contributions to their health insurance premiums.

Before the strike, SEPTA tried to negotiate with the union, offering them a new deal whereby SEPTA union employees would pay 5% of their salary towards healthcare costs. The SEPTA unions refused the offer, arguing that when cost of living increases and inflation were factored in, its members would actually make less money than they had before. Negotiators walked out of contract negotiations minutes before the 12:01 AM deadline when they failed to reach an agreement.

Shortly after midnight on the morning of October 31, the unions called a strike. All employees in the City, Victory, and Frontier Divisions walked off the job, resulting in a complete suspension of service on all bus, trolley, and subway lines. Service on the regional rail division continued according to contingency plans, with service added to certain stations to help transport displaced city and suburban division passengers. This work stoppage stranded approximately 400,000 riders daily, impacting around 1,000,000 rides daily, forcing commuters to carpool, walk, or arrange other alternative methods of transportation. In addition, over 27,000 public school students who receive free or subsidized transit tokens were forced to miss school completely or have their days cut short due to transportation issues.

In the early morning of November 7, 2005, a preliminary agreement was reached between SEPTA management and union leadership, ending the strike. Service on all affected transit lines was fully restored by the late afternoon. This agreement was due in large part to the intervention by former Philadelphia mayor, and current Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell.

Transfer Disputes

In 2007, as part of a new budget-balancing proposal, SEPTA proposed eliminating bus transfers. This would have resulted in an 80% fare increase for many riders. Because SEPTA has been unable to provide a statistical need for the elimination, they have been forced to hold off.


SEPTA is governed by a 15-member Board of Directors.

  • The City of Philadelphia appoints two members; one member is appointed by the Mayor, the other by the City Council President. These two board members can veto any item that is approved by the full SEPTA board because the city represents more than two-thirds of SEPTA's local subsidy, fare revenue, and ridership. However, the veto may be overridden with the vote of at least 75% of the full board within 30 days.
  • Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County appoint two members each. These members are appointed by the County Commissioners in Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery County and by the County Council in Delaware County.
  • The majority and minority leaders of the two houses of the Pennsylvania State Legislature (the Senate and the House of Representatives) appoint one member each, for a total of four members.
  • The Governor of Pennsylvania appoints one member.

The day-to-day operations of SEPTA are handled by the General Manager, who is appointed and hired by the Board of Directors. The General Manager is assisted by nine department heads called Assistant General Managers.

The present General Manager is Joseph M. Casey, who had served as the authority's Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer until his appointment as General Manager in 2008. Past General Managers include Faye L. M. Moore, Joseph T. Mack, John "Jack" Leary, Lou Gambaccini, and David L. Gunn. Past acting General Managers include James Kilcur and Bill Stead.

Routes and ridership

Rapid transit

  • Market–Frankford Line (Blue Line): subway and elevated line from the Frankford Transportation Center (rebuilt in 2003) in the Frankford section of Philadelphia to 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, via Center City Philadelphia. Weekday ridership averaged 178,715 in 2006.
  • Broad Street Line and Broad–Ridge Spur (Orange Line): subway line along Broad Street in Philadelphia from Fern Rock Transportation Center to Pattison Avenue/Sports Complex, via Center City Philadelphia. Weekday ridership averaged 114,816 in 2006.

Trolley and light rail

  • Subway–Surface Trolley Lines (Green Line): five trolley routes - 10, 11, 13, 34, and 36 - that run in a subway in Center City and fan out along on street-level trolley tracks in West and Southwest Philadelphia. Daily ridership averaged 55,463 in 2006.
  • Route 100 (Norristown High-Speed Line): formerly known as the Philadelphia & Western (P&W) Railroad, this interurban rapid transit is considered a light rail line. Daily ridership averaged 8,801 in 2006.
  • Routes 101 and 102 (Suburban Trolley Lines): two trolley routes in Delaware County which run mostly on private rights-of-way but also have some street running. Daily ridership averaged 7,132 in 2006.
  • Routes 15, 23, and 56: Three surface trolley routes that were "temporarily" suspended in 1992. Routes 23 and 56 are currently operated with buses. Trolley service on Route 15 resumed as of September 2005. Route 23 has long been SEPTA's most heavily traveled surface route, with daily ridership averaging 20,113 in 2006.
  • Trackless trolley (Trolleybus): Until the summer of 2008, all five of SEPTA's trackless trolley routes were operated with buses. Routes 29, 59, 66, 75, and 79 were run with trackless trolleys until diesel buses replaced them in 2002 and 2003. The first new pilot trackless trolley arrived in June 2007 and their operation resumed on Routes 59 and 66 on May 21, 2008. Service was later restored on route 75 as well. SEPTA did not purchase enough new trackless trolleys to restore service to routes 29 and 79.


SEPTA lists 121 bus routes, not including over 50 school trips, with most routes in the City of Philadelphia proper. Currently, SEPTA generally employs lettered, one and two-digit route numbering for its City Division routes, 90-series and 100-series numbers routes for its Victory ("Red Arrow") Division (Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties) and its Frontier Division (Montgomery and Bucks Counties), 200-series routes for its Regional Rail connector routes (Routes 201, 204, 205 and 206 in Montgomery & Chester Counties), 300-series routes for other specialized and/or third-party contract routes, and 400-series routes for limited service buses to schools within the city of Philadelphia.

Commuter rail

SEPTA's commuter rail service is run by the SEPTA Regional Rail division. This division operates 13 lines serving more than 150 stations covering most of the five county southeastern Pennsylvania region. It also runs trains to Newark, Delaware, Trenton, New Jersey, and West Trenton, New Jersey. Daily ridership averaged over 100,000 in 2006, with 1/3 of ridership on the R5 route between Thorndale, Paoli, Lansdale, and Doylestown.

SEPTA divisions

SEPTA has three major operating divisions: City Transit, Suburban, and Regional Rail. These divisions reflect the different transit and railroad operations that SEPTA has assumed.

City Transit Division

The City Transit Division operates routes mostly within the City of Philadelphia, including buses, subway-surface trolleys, the Market-Frankford Line, and the Broad Street Line. Some of its routes extend into Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks counties. This division is the descendant of the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC). There are seven depots in this division: five of these depots only operate buses, one is a mixed bus/streetcar depot, one is a streetcar-only facility.

Bus and trackless trolley routes

Light rail routes


  • Callowhill Depot (buses and streetcars)
  • Elmwood Depot (streetcars only)
  • Frankford Depot (buses and trackless trolleys)
  • Comly Depot (buses only)
  • Midvale Depot (buses only)
  • Allegheny Depot (articulated buses only)
  • Southern Depot (buses only. SEPTA Voted to not have the trackless trolley's return to South Philly)
  • Germantown Depot (buses, CCT Oversight(Senior-Disabled) / Phila. Trenton Coach(officially) contract operations)

For latest info on Garages

Suburban Division

Victory District

The Victory District operates suburban bus and trolley (or light rail) routes that are based at 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby in Delaware County. Its routes include the Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100) light rail line that runs from 69th Street Terminal to Norristown and the SEPTA Surface Media and Sharon Hill Trolley Lines (Routes 101 and 102). This district is the descendant of the metro:Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, also known as the Red Arrow Lines. Most residents of the Victory District operating area still refer to this district as the "Red Arrow Division."

Light rail routes

Bus routes

Frontier District

The Frontier District operates suburban bus routes that are based at the Norristown Transportation Center in Montgomery County and bus lines that serve eastern Bucks County. This district is the descendant of the Schuylkill Valley Lines in the Norristown area. SEPTA began operating the Bucks County routes in the 1980s.

Suburban contract operations

Regional Rail division

The Regional Rail Division (RRD) operates 13 commuter railroad routes that begin in Central Philadelphia and radiate outwards, terminating in intra-city, suburban, and out-of-state locations.

This division is the descendant of the six electrified commuter lines of the Reading Company (RDG), the six electrified commuter lines of Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR, later Penn Central: PC) railroads, and the new Airport line constructed by the City of Philadelphia between 1974 and 1984.

With the construction and opening of the Center City Commuter Connection Tunnel in 1984, lines were paired such that a former Pennsylvania Railroad line was coupled with a former Reading line. Seven such pairings were created and given route designations numbered R1 through R8 (with R4 not used). As a result, the routes were originally designed so that trains would proceed from one outlying terminal to Center City, stopping at 30th Street Station, Suburban Station, and Market East Station, then proceed out to the other outlying terminal assigned to the route. Since ridership patterns have changed since the implementation of this plan, numerous exceptions exist, e.g. R6 Cynwyd line trains from Cynwyd terminate at Suburban station and do not proceed to Norristown, while R6s from Norristown often continue through center city as R2s.

The out-of-state terminals offer connections (and potential connections) with other transit agencies. For example, the R7 Trenton line offers connections in Trenton, New Jersey to NJ Transit (NJT) or Amtrak for travel to New York City. Plans exist to restore NJT service to West Trenton, New Jersey, thus offering a future alternate to New York via the R3 West Trenton line and NJT. Another plan offers a connection for travel to Baltimore and Washington DC via MARC, involving extensions of the SEPTA R2 from Newark, Delaware, an extension of MARC's Penn service from Perryville MD, or both.

SEPTA's railroad reporting mark SPAX can be seen on non-revenue work equipment including boxcars, diesel locomotives, and other rolling stock.

SEPTA roster


Year Make Model Length
(ft / mm)
(in / mm)
Numbers Engine Transmission
1996-1997 American Ikarus/NABI 416.08TA 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 5001-5400
Detroit Diesel series 50 Allison B400
1998-2000 Neoplan AN460OQ 60 / 18,288 102 / 2,591 7101-7255 Detroit Diesel series 50 Allison B500
2001 New Flyer D40LF 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 5401-5500 Detroit Diesel series 50/ Allison B400
2001 ElDorado Transmark RE29 29 / 8,839 96 / 2,438 4501-4580
(80 in service)
Cummins ISB Allison B300
2002 New Flyer D40LF 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 5501-5600 Detroit Diesel series 50 Allison B400
2002 New Flyer DE40LF 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 5601H-5612H Cummins ISL Allison E drive
2003 New Flyer D40LF 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 5613-5712 Cummins ISL Allison B400
2004 New Flyer D40LF 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 5713-5831,
Detroit Diesel series 50 ZF6HP-592
2004 Champion Defender 27 / 8,230 96 / 2,438 2070-2097 26 in active service Caterpillar C7 Allison 1000
2004 New Flyer DE40LF 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 5832H-5850H Cummins ISL Allison E drive
2005 New Flyer D40LF 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 8000-8119 Cummins ISL ZF 6HP-592
2007 Champion Challenger 27 / 8,230 96 / 2,438 2098-2099 to replace buses from the 2070–2097 batch lost to fire Cummins ISB Allison 1000
2007-2008 New Flyer E40LFR 40 / 12,192 102 / 2,591 800-837 Cummins QSB 4.5 (emergency backup) Vossloh Kiepe Propulsion Equipment
2008-2012 New Flyer DE41LF 41 / 12,497 102 / 2,591 8121-8149 ,8165-8174 Cummins ISL Allison E Drive

Neoplan Order History

In 1982, SEPTA made its largest-ever order of buses: the Neoplan USA order, which was at the time also the company's largest order. Over the years, these buses have made their way all around the system. SEPTA changed their specifications on their new bus order each year. The Neoplan AK’s (8285–8413) which was SEPTA’s first order of Neoplans had longitudinal seating: all their seats face towards the aisle. However, their suburban counterparts (8411–8434) had longitudinal seating only in the rear of the bus. The back door has a wheelchair ramp, which forced SEPTA to limit their use and specify wheelchair-lift operations on their next order of coaches. These units also sported a nine-liter 6v92 engine and Allison HT-740 transmission.

By the early 1990s, SEPTA had 1,092 Neoplan An440 coaches in active service, making the Philadelphia operation the largest transportation authority in North America with the fleet mainly manufactured by Neoplan USA. These buses dominated the streets of Philadelphia through late 1997, when the earlier fleet of AK/BD (8285–8581) was replaced by the 40-foot version of the NABI SEPTA.


Year Make Model Length
(ft / mm)
(in / mm)
Gauge Numbers
1981-1982 Kawasaki B-IV single-ended 67.5 / 20,574 121.5 / 3,086 Standard gauge 501-576
1982 Kawasaki B-IV double-ended 67.5 / 20,574 121.5 / 3,086 651-699
1996-1999 Adtranz M4 55 / 16,764 110 / 2,974 1001-1220

Light Rail

Year Make Model Length (ft / mm) Width (in / mm) Gauge Numbers
(rebuilt 2003)
St. Louis Car PCC II 46 / 14,021 96 / 2,438 2320-2337
1981 Kawasaki K-Car Suburban LRV 53 / 16,154 102 / 2,591 100-129
1981 Kawasaki K-Car Subway-Surface LRV 49 / 14,935 102 / 2,591 9000-9111
1993 ABB N-5 Norristown 65 / 19,812 107 / 2,718 130-155

Regional Rail

Year Make Model Numbers Total Hp Tare
Seats Remarks
1963 Budd Silverliner II 201-209, 211-219,
251-264, 266-269,
54 of 56 active 624 50.7/46.1 124-127 200 series cars are former Pennsylvania Railroad cars. 9000 series cars are former Reading Railroad cars.
1967 St. Louis Car Silverliner III 220-223, 225-239 19 of 20 active 624 50.7/46.1 122 (232-239 seat 90) Former Pennsylvania Railroad cars used on what is now the Keystone Service. These cars have left-side cabs, instead of standard right-side cabs.
1975 GE Silverliner IV 101-188, 306-399,
417-460 (married pairs)
276-305, 400-416
(single cars)
231 of 232 active Not known 62.5/56.8 125 400-series units are cars renumbered from lower series or from Reading Railroad cars 9018–9031 when PCB transformers were replaced with silicone transformers.
1987 EMD AEM7 2301-2307 7 7,000 101/91.9 Loco-motive Locomotives for push-pull trains
1987 Bombardier Comet II 2401-2410 (cab cars)
2501-2516 (trailer)
10 cab cars
25 trailers
Push-pull 50/45.4 118
(cab cars)
Push-pull coaches hauled by locomotives.
1996 ABB ALP-44 2308 1 7000 99.2/90.2 Loco-motive Locomotive for push-pull trains. Delivered as a result of a settlement for late delivery of N-5 cars.
2000 Bombardier Comet IV 2550-2559 10 trailers Push pull 50/45.4 117 These cars have a center door, and are used in push-pull service.
2009- Rotem Silverliner V 701-739 Single Cars (Double Ended), 801-883 Married Pair Units 120 62.5/56.8 110 Replacements for Budd and St. Louis Car railcars.

Upcoming purchase

SEPTA has made a purchase to buy 400 New Flyer Hybrid buses to replace the Nabi Ikarus buses in their 12 year life span. Another future plan is to purchase 120 Silverliner V's made and manufactured by Rotem. They will sport one double door and one single door that will not be at the ends of each vehicles. The Silverliner V's will replace the aging Silverliner II's and III's. Rotem announced that they will build a factory in south Philadelphia to manufacture the future order of trains in Philadelphia and the trains that will be ordered later on from other transit agencies around the US

Maintenance of way vehicles

  • C-145 snow sweeper 1923
  • Harsco Track Technologies Corporation work car
  • PCC work car 2194
  • SEPTA Railroad OPS-3161 work car
  • W-56 work Car
  • W-61 work Car
  • 1033-1034 Market Frankford line Work Cars

Retired Fleet as of June 2008



  • 1906-1911 Market Street el' cars, #1-135, Pressed Steel Car Co., Class A-8 (M1)
  • 1911-1913 Market Street el' cars, #136-215, J.G. Brill Co., Class A-8 (M1)
  • 1922 Frankford el' cars, #501-600, J.G. Brill Co., Class A-15 (M2)
  • 1960 Budd el' cars, #601-646, Budd Co., Class A-49 (M3)
  • 1960 Budd el' cars, #701-743, Budd Co., Class A-50 (M3)
  • 1960 Budd el' cars, #702-924, Budd Co., Class A-51 (M3)
  • 1960 Budd el' cars, #745-923, Budd Co., Class A-50 (M3)
  • 1928 North Broad subway cars, #1-150, J.G. Brill Co. (B1)
  • 1938 South Broad subway cars, #151-200, Pressed Steel Car Co. (B2)
  • 1936 Bridge Line subway cars, #1001-1024, J.G. Brill Co. (B3), acquired second-hand from DRPA (Delaware River Port Authority) subsidiary PATCO (Port Authority Transit Corporation)
  • 1927 to 1929 J.G. Brill and Company Strafford Cars
  • St. Louis Car Company Ex-CTA Cars
  • 1932 to 1933 J.G. Brill and Company Master Unit Cars
  • 1940 J.G. Brill and Company Brillliners
  • 1926 J.G. Brill and Company Center Door
  • 1949 St. Louis Car Company Interurbans
  • 1941 St. Louis Car Company Liberty Liners
  • 1940 to 1942 PCC Air Cars
  • 1946 to 1948 PCC All Electrics

Maintenance facilities

  • 69th Street Yard (Market-Frankford Line)
  • Allegheny Depot (City Transit Division/Bus)
  • Berridge Shops (formerly Wyoming Shops) (Bus Maintenance and Overhauls)
  • Callowhill Depot (City Transit Division/Bus and Streetcar)
  • Comly Depot (City Transit Division/Bus)
  • Elmwood Depot (City Transit Division/Streetcar)
  • Fern Rock Yard (Broad Street Line)
  • Frankford Depot (City Transit Division/Bus)
  • Frazer Yard (Regional Rail Push and Pull sets)
  • Frontier Depot (Suburban Transit Division/Bus)
  • Germantown Brakes Maintenance Facility (Bus Maintenance/Phila.Trenton Coach (officially)or Contract Operations-bus for government agencies and senior or disabled person transportation oversight (CCT))
  • Midvale Depot (City Transit Division/Bus)
  • Overbrook Maintenance Facility (Regional Rail)
  • Powelton Yard (Regional Rail)
  • Roberts Yard (Regional Rail)
  • Southern Depot (City Transit Division/Bus)
  • Woodland Maintenance Facility (Streetcar Overhaul and Repairs)
  • Victory Depot (69th Street) (Suburban Transit Division/Bus and Rail)
  • Bridge Street Yard (Market-Frankford Line)

Connecting transit agencies in the Philadelphia region

Local services

Regional services

National services


See also

External links




Search another word or see SEPTAon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature