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Happy Almost 60!

February 17, 2023

February 18 is a significant day for public transportation in Southeastern Pennsylvania. On this day, fifty-nine years ago, SEPTA held its first organizational meeting which formed the beginnings of the transit system we all ride [and love] today!

Here's a quick history lesson:

In the late 1950's and early 1960's public transportation in the Philadelphia region was failing. A number of factors, including the growing popularity of the car, families and jobs moving to the suburbs, and too many private transit providers competing for the same riders, resulted in a steady decline in the use of mass transit.

With profits falling, nearly bankrupt transit and rail companies were looking to exit the passenger business altogether. The need for government intervention and the establishment of a permanent body to run urban mass transit and coordinate regional service was apparent.

The problem was solved when the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority [now better known as SEPTA] was charged with the planning, development, and coordination of a regional transportation system for Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.

SEPTA was created by the Pennsylvania legislature on August 17, 1963 to coordinate government subsidies to various transit and railroad companies in southeastern Pennsylvania. It commenced on February 18, 1964.

Today SEPTA is the nation's fifth largest transit system with a vast network of fixed route services including bus, subway, trolley, trackless trolley, and Regional Rail, as well as ADA paratransit and Shared Ride programs. SEPTA is also one of the region's largest employers - with a workforce of approximately 9,500 employees.

And we aren't stopping. This year we plan to advance several initiatives, such as Bus Revolution, King of Prussia Rail, Trolley Modernization, Wayfinding, and rail fleet replacements, the largest source of SEPTA’s State of Good Repair needs. And in time for our 70th, we will bring full ADA accessibility to the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines!

Follow us here for updates on these projects. In the mean time -

Here's a quick look at what else happened on February 18:

On February 18, 1885: Mark Twain published his famous [and famously controversial] novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

In 1930: Pluto - once believed to be the ninth planet - was discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh.

Also in 1930: Elm Farm Ollie became the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft and also the first cow to be milked in an aircraft. 

On February 18, 1970: the Chicago Seven were found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

On February 18, 2001: Dale Earnhardt Sr., considered one of the greatest drivers in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) history, died at the age of 49 in a last-lap crash at the 43rd Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

On February 18, 2006: Shani Davis becomes the first Black athlete to win an individual gold medal in Winter Olympics history - capturing the men's 1,000-meter speedskating race.

And in 2021: Perseverance, a Mars rover designed to explore Jezero crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars 2020 mission, landed successfully.

As far as national days go, February 18 is National Red Sock Day, Great Backyard Bird Count Day, and National Drink Wine Day. Now you know how we'll be celebrating our 59th Birthday! 🐦🧦🍷

PS. Also celebrating a birthday on February 18: Dr. Dre and Vanna White! But probably not together.