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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
(ft / mm)
(in / mm)
|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|
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.
(ft / mm)
(in / mm)
|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|
|Year||Make||Model||Length (ft / mm)||Width (in / mm)||Gauge||Numbers|
|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|
|1963||Budd||Silverliner II||201-209, 211-219,|
|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)
|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)|
|10 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.|