Last Friday, SEPTA played host to U.S. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, who held a press conference at Snyder Station on the Broad Street Line to celebrate the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). As her district includes large portions of the Broad Street Line and our trolley system, Rep. Scanlon visited both Snyder Station and Woodland Shop—where the Route 15 PCC trolleys are currently undergoing restoration—with SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards.
The cause for Rep. Scanlon’s visit is something to celebrate: the recent passage of the federal IIJA means that SEPTA will receive an additional $120 million in capital funding annually for the next four years. This increase in capital funding empowers us at SEPTA to make significant progress on our over $4 billion backlog in maintenance and vehicle replacement needs.
Our trolley system is a great example of those needs. Pre-COVID, our trolleys carried almost as many passengers as Regional Rail. They constitute more than half of the lines that make up SEPTA Metro, our rail transit network. Yet our trolley fleet is reaching the end of its useful lifespan and is entirely inaccessible to people with disabilities. Many stations on the Broad Street Line are also inaccessible.
Trolley Modernization—our plan to transform trolley service with new accessible vehicles and stations—is estimated to cost $1.8 billion in total. But these dollars do more than just keep the trolley system in a state of good repair: they are revolutionizing our transit system with easier and faster trips. Increased capital funding is critical to make Trolley Modernization a reality, as well as other essential initiatives, such as making Broad Street Line stations accessible and replacing subway cars on the Market-Frankford Line.
Manager of Long Range Planning and program manager of Trolley Modernization Jennifer Dougherty (left) and SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards (middle) discuss Trolley Modernization and Blossom at Bartram! with Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (right).
At Woodland, Trolley Modernization program manager Jennifer Dougherty led a presentation for Rep. Scanlon on the project and another ongoing initiative in Rep. Scanlon’s district, the Blossom at Bartram! Complete Street Project, focused on Grays Avenue and Lindbergh Blvd in Southwest Philadelphia. These streets are home to a segment of the Route 36 trolley, so the project includes street design improvements that will make boarding and exiting the trolley easier and safer. PIDC has partnered with SEPTA to expand the study area to several additional side streets in the area.
Brian Aaron, Assistant Director of Maintenance at Woodland, and Ed Carruthers, Director of Vehicle Maintenance for the Broad Street Line, gave Rep. Scanlon a tour of the Woodland Shop, where she viewed trolleys undergoing restoration. SEPTA’s maintenance crews aren’t just working on the PCC trolleys: both types of Kawasaki trolleys, which run on the West Philadelphia and suburban trolley lines, are being maintained at Woodland.
From left to right: Ed Carruthers, Leslie Richards, and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon in front of a PCC trolley undergoing restoration at SEPTA’s Woodland Shop.
“People across our region rely on SEPTA every day to get to work, drop their kids off at school, make a trip to the grocery store, pick up their medicine, and more,” said Rep. Scanlon at the press conference at Snyder Station. “Our neighbors should be able to complete these daily tasks that many of us take for granted without having to plan around which station on the Broad Street line has an elevator to accommodate their wheelchair or which stop of the Market Frankford Line is easiest to get their baby stroller in and out of.”
At SEPTA, we absolutely agree. We’re excited to use increased capital funding to make our transit services accessible for people with disabilities and faster and easier for everyone to use.