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Happy 60th Birthday SEPTA! Part 4

February 23, 2024

Our month-long celebration of SEPTA's 60th birthday continues with a look back and forward to buses! 

Bus service in Philadelphia began 101 years ago in 1923 on Route A. In the years since - the goal to help Philadelphians commute has remained the same but the buses themselves have changed quite a bit. 

After WWI – private transportation companies serving the region purchased gas-powered autobuses because they were less expensive than the streetcars they had been using. They were also able to cover a wider geographic area since they weren’t reliant on rails.

From 1969 to 1982 - SEPTA operated buses from GM. These buses were commonly known by the nickname "Fishbowl" for its original six-paned windshield (later updated to a two-paned curved windshield) and rear window.

In 1982 - SEPTA began running Neoplan buses. By the early 1990s - there were over one thousand Neoplan AN435 and AN440 buses in active service. The Neoplans were phased out in 2008.

Today SEPTA's bus fleet consists of over 1,400 buses operating out of nine (9) districts. We operate 30' and 40' New Flyer buses and 40' and 62' vehicles from Nova Bus.

SEPTA has one of the greenest bus fleets in the nation with 97% of the fleet being hybrid - meaning it runs on both diesel full and battery-electric. And it will soon be even greener! 

The handful of buses that aren’t hybrid are being phased out now and should be off the streets by Spring of this year. And we expect delivery ten fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) made in the United States by New Flyer of America this Summer. FCEBs are powered by electricity derived from hydrogen fuel cells - resulting in zero tailpipe emissions and improved air quality for riders, neighbors, and communities. Hydrogen buses offer similar range and performance as diesel-hybrid buses with quieter operation, lower maintenance costs, and less than half the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. 

Thanks for reading and for riding!