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SEPTA overhauling bus route system for 1st time in decades

SEPTA reveals plan to overhaul bus route system
SEPTA reveals plan to overhaul bus route system 01:34

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- For the first time in decades, SEPTA is overhauling its entire bus route system, and it could impact how you get in and around Philadelphia and its suburbs.

SEPTA officials want to make big changes -- everything from having fewer buses in Center City to changing bus routes altogether.

Amid the hustle and bustle at the Olney Transportation Center, Briana Quinones of North Philadelphia waits for her bus that goes to the Plymouth Meeting Mall, where she works.

"It's good because my job is like, as soon as I get off the bus," Quinones said, "I can walk right to my job."

She worries about SEPTA's new bus route proposal. If approved, it would mean she would change her route and instead, ride from Olney to Chestnut Hill and from there to Plymouth Meeting.

"I don't really like that idea because it's more extra time to go to work," Quinones said.

"Really, those should be two different routes," said Dan Nemiroff, SEPTA's manager of planning programs.

Nemiroff says proposed changes like the one to Quinones's route come with positive tradeoffs.

"It allows us to run the service between Chestnut Hill and Olney more frequently because there's less ridership out to Plymouth Meeting," Nemiroff said.

SEPTA says ridership has climbed to about 68% of what it was pre-pandemic.

On Monday night, officials revealed a new plan for their buses, which would eliminate about 25 bus routes and alter others.

By doing so, SEPTA officials believe they can bump up the average speed of its buses, which is about 8 miles per hour. That's well under the national average of about 15 miles an hour.

"Building ridership through more frequent service, we think we'll be more competitive on the roads," Nemiroff said.

SEPTA is also open to suggestions.

SEPTA is holding discussions over the next two months. If the SEPTA board eventually approves the proposal, it would take effect in the fall of 2023.

Some activists hope SEPTA does more to promote the discussions.

"They need to put up signs at every single bus stop. They need to have signs on every single bus," said Nat Lownes of the Transit Riders Union.

You can see the draft here.

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