We don’t usually get too excited about SEPTA buses – except for when they’re pulling up right on time. But SEPTA’s newest bus route, the 49, is actually a development in the transit world that’s got people talking about it.
That’s because the Route 49 bus cuts a vertical north-south path through Center City West and University City that’s unlike any other bus route, many of which wrap through Center City and for segments at least, cover much of the same territory.
The maiden voyage of Route 49, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 24, has the potential to be a game-changer for people who are accustomed to taking two buses, a bus and a train, or just not having a public transit options for getting to where they need to go.
One benefit is a new link connecting residents from the neighborhoods of Strawberry Mansion, Brewerytown and Fairmount direclty to Southwest Philly and Grays Ferry directly on a route down the Parkway and through University City.
“The Route 49 will provide an important connection between these communities and the growing number of jobs and health resources in University City,” SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said in a statement.
Another benefit is a direct SEPTA route from 30th Street to the Parkway. The Route 49 will “create a direct transit option between 30th Street Station and the world-renowned cultural attractions located along the Ben Franklin Parkway,” Deon said.
SEPTA is currently developing a Comprehensive Bus Network Redesign project and has been analyzing the strengths and weakness of their existing transit bus infrastructure, in an effort to potentially redesign the network to increase ridership and efficiency, while examining issues like possible service redundancies, connections between transit centers and Regional Rail, and the value of transfer fees.
While the Route 49 is not a directly outgrowth of that project, both relate to SEPTA’s general goal to improve the bus ridership experience for its passengers, a spokesman said. The unique design of the Route 49 was based on years of input from community groups and city officials, they said.
They said this service change follows another enhancement intended to make commuters lives’ easier, the introduction on Roosevelt Boulevard of the Boulevard Direct, an express bus that makes only eight stops from Frankford Transportation Center to the Neshaminy Mall. The express takes 30 minutes to travel between the Boulevard’s eight most popular stops, a trail that on the existing Route 14 bus makes 40 stops and takes closer to an hour.
Meet the Route 49
Some of the major stops along the Route 49 will include:
UPenn, Drexel University, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), UPenn Hospital, 30th Street Station, the Ben Franklin Parkway, Eastern State Penitentiary and Grays Ferry Shopping Center.
The seven-day-a-week bus is scheduled to run weekday trips during peak hours every 15 minutes, with rides every 20-30 minutes off-peak and on weekends.
Within its first year of service, the Route 49 is projected to transport up to 3,000 passengers a day.
For more information about the new Route 49 bus, visit SEPTA.org.