On July 15, 2022, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) honored nine organizations - including SEPTA - and leaders with awards for their vision, leadership, and commitment to public transportation.
The 2022 APTA Awards recognize organizations and leaders in the public transportation industry in North America who have demonstrated significant leadership, are outstanding role models of excellence, and whose accomplishments and innovations have greatly advanced public transportation.
SEPTA is honored to receive the American Public Transportation Association Innovation Award.
Transit systems have long been challenged by public safety issues and the makeshift sheltering of chronically homeless and vulnerable populations. While homelessness, substance use disorder and mental illness originate well outside of public transportation, SEPTA understands and values its role as a leader and as a partner to find solutions to the challenges facing the communities it serves. In 2021, the agency launched its SCOPE initiative (Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnership and Engagement) and achieved three overarching goals: to ensure a safe and clean working environment for all SEPTA employees, provide a safe and clean travel experience for customers and connect vulnerable individuals to vital services and resources. SCOPE’s multifaceted approach helps SEPTA direct the full spectrum of its resources toward identifying problems, recommending and implementing strategies, building community and institutional partnerships and ultimately connecting people to services such as housing and mental health care. Rather than approach these issues purely as a law enforcement problem, SCOPE has allowed SEPTA to form innovative partnerships with social service non-profits, universities and local governments to connect people to community resources. SEPTA has committed to go beyond its role as a transit service provider to become a community resource for positive change.
Through the SCOPE program, SEPTA is advancing strategies that are designed to restore confidence in public transportation, build ridership, and support recovery from the pandemic.
The program also reflects the ongoing conversations on the nature of policing and enforcement and how proactive, compassionate engagement of those experiencing homelessness, substance use disorder and mental health issues, and correcting the conditions that contribute to crime on the system can have the maximum impact for safer, stronger transit systems and communities.
“We are truly honored to receive this national recognition,” said SEPTA General Manager/CEO Leslie Richards. “Homelessness, substance use, and mental illness are huge societal problems, which we cannot afford to ignore. I am proud of the comprehensive, holistic approach we have taken at SEPTA, and I am grateful to the SCOPE team and to Kenneth A. Divers, who has been driving SEPTA’s vision and mobilizing the support of homeless service providers, government agencies, nonprofits, community organizations, academic groups and others to partner with us."