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Twenty in 2020

January 8, 2021

Septa 2020 to 2021 review blog 010821 04

This past year was undoubtedly unprecedented - for many reasons, We’re thankful for our employees - especially those on the frontline - for rising to the challenge during a difficult year and for driving Philly forward by providing essential service to connect our amazing riders to work, school, and healthcare.

It’s been a tough year - but there were bright spots - too. And when we look back, we are amazed at all that we have accomplished and all that we have to look forward to in the year(s) to come. 

1. Leslie S. Richards Becomes SEPTA General Manager

Ms. Richards joined SEPTA in January 2020, following the retirement of General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. Prior to joining SEPTA, Ms. Richards served as the first woman secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), one of the largest and most innovative transportation agencies in the United States.

2. Penn Medicine Station: SEPTA’s University City Transit Hub Gets a New Name

On Monday, January 27, 2020, SEPTA and Penn Medicine announced a partnership that resulted in the Regional Rail Station known as University City Station becoming Penn Medicine Station. This partnership is consistent with SEPTA's mandate to generate non-fare box revenues – making this partnership is a win-win for SEPTA customers.

3. SEPTA Celebrates Exton Station Improvements

On Monday, March 2, 2020, SEPTA gathered with local officials and community members to celebrate the recently completed modernization of Exton Station on the Paoli/Thorndale Regional Rail Line. Construction was completed in phases to minimize the impact on customers. SEPTA worked in close coordination with PennDOT, Amtrak, West Whiteland Township and other stakeholders throughout the project. A major focus of the project were improvements that deliver full accessibility, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

4. Sound the Horn

SEPTA joined Amtrak and other regional transportation operators across the country to participate in #SoundTheHorn - a coordinated effort to simultaneously sound their vehicle horns at 3pm on Thursday, April 16, 2020 to honor heroic transportation and other essential workers across the United States. As a tribute to the essential workers on the front lines of this public health crisis, including transportation workers, SEPTA trains, buses and trolleys running in service across the Greater Philadelphia area gave two one-second horn blasts in solidarity with partner agencies.

5. SEPTA and Lightsource BP Sign Contract for Solar Power

SEPTA and Lightsource BP, a global leader in the development, financing and management of utility-scale solar energy projects, signed a long-term power contract for two solar farms totaling 43.8 MWdc in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The projects, Elk Hill 1 and 2, will help advance energy and sustainability priorities for both SEPTA and the Commonwealth. Lightsource BP will finance, build, own and operate the two solar farms, which will generate an estimated annual total of 67,029 MWh of clean and affordable solar energy, or nearly 20 percent of SEPTA's 380,000 MWh per year electricity demand – the equivalent of providing energy to more than 6,100 US homes annually.

6. We Suited Up, Scrubbed Down, and Spaced Out

In accordance with the Governor Wolf's mask mandate and CDC guidelines, effective June 8, 2020, We require all customers and SEPTA employees to wear a mask or face covering when riding and when waiting. Enhanced cleaning efforts include sanitizing every vehicle at least twice a day; sanitizing high-touch surfaces on trains, buses, trolleys and facilities; reallocating resources to work around the clock cleaning, disinfecting, and overnight power washing at all open stations; utilizing EPA recommended products. To ensure the health and safety of our customers, we implemented social distancing protocols - including installing social distancing decals on vehicle seats and on station platforms to indicate proper rider spacing. We've also implemented social distancing protocols at all of work locations including shops, districts, and crew facilities. And partnered with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium to provide free COVID-19 testing to employees.

7. Transfer for Free with Your SEPTA Key

On July 1, 2020, we introduced a Fare Restructuring Plan that includes one free transfer on transit (bus, trolley, Broad Street Line, Market-Frankford Line, and Norristown High Speed Line) for SEPTA Key cardholders. Customers who use Travel Wallet on SEPTA Key get one free transfer per transit trip - resulting in a savings of $1. The free transfer also applies to customers using a SEPTA Key Reduced Fare Card. There's also an extended transfer time-frame. You have up to two hours from the start of your trip to use a transfer, which is a 30-minute increase.

It's important to note that the SEPTA Board also voted not to increase fares in 2020. 

2020 marked our first-ever virtual Fare Hearings and virtual SEPTA Board Meetings.

8. Kids Ride Free on SEPTA

Effective July 1, 2020, children under the age of 12 ride free on SEPTA when accompanied by an adult. This change brings big savings to families that like to travel together on SEPTA and it also means children under 12 do not need their own SEPTA Key card.

9. SEPTA Key Travel Wallet on Regional Rail

Travel Wallet launched on Regional Rail on Monday, July 13, 2020. Using Travel Wallet on the contactless SEPTA Key card enhances both safety and convenience for riders. And not only does Travel Wallet give customers added convenience and flexibility, they will always receive the fare with the greatest discount.

10. SEPTA Introduces Social Distancing Coaches

In an effort to promote mask-wearing compliance and social distancing, Social Distancing Coaches were positioned at key locations throughout the SEPTA system beginning Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The Coaches gave away thousands of masks and thanked customers for wearing their masks and social distancing.

11. Employee Tribute Wall

This tribute wall located in Suburban Station includes the names and photos of 28 SEPTA frontline employees—there are thousands more who deserve to be recognized for their tremendous efforts. It is our hope that this wall will serve as a symbol of the dedication, hard work, and sacrifice by all of our SEPTA frontline employees—and when people pass by —they will take a moment to thank them. They are true heroes, and we appreciate everything they do to keep us moving. The wall is the first in a series of displays across the system to recognize SEPTA’s heroes.

12. Safety Research and Demonstration Program Grant & HOPE Grant

SEPTA received $742,000 from the Federal Transit Administration to install an automated employee protection system, allowing transit workers to enhance their safety while working on the tracks. And $495,000 to upgrade transportation infrastructure on a corridor that connects one of Philadelphia's low-income communities to Center City jobs, healthcare and other community services. The project will redesign SEPTA trolley stations to improve accessibility and add pedestrian safety features such as improved crosswalks and traffic controls. 

13. New Three Day Convenience Pass

In order to better meet the needs of our customers and their current commuting patterns, we introduced a new pass option available on SEPTA Key beginning October 20, 2020. The NEW - Three Day Convenience Passis ideal for individuals who travel on SEPTA Transit Routes (bus, trolley, Broad Street Line, Market-Frankford Line, and the Norristown High Speed Line) less than 5 days a week and visitors and tourists enjoying a multiple day stay in Philadelphia. The cost is $18 and it's good for 24 trips over 72 consecutive hours. 

14. 5th Street/Independence Hall Station Reconstruction

The project transformed the station and street-level amenities into a transportation hub with modern amenities that is worthy of its location in the heart of one of nation’s most important historic districts. In connection with the complete reconstruction of the 5th Street-Independence Hall Station on the Market-Frankford Line, SEPTA held a public competition for a major art installation. Tom Judd’s Portal to Discovery was selected by a panel of judges as being a wonderful evocation of the links between America’s most historic neighborhood and a diverse population over the last three centuries.

15. No More Paper Tickets on Regional Rail

Sales of single trip and 10-trip ticket strips ended on Friday, October 2, 2020 – reinforcing the SEPTA Key card as the preferred fare.

16. SEPTA, Amtrak, PennDOT Partnership Results in $15.9 Million Federal Grant

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded SEPTA $15.9 million through the Federal-State Partnership for the State of Good Repair Grant program to improve signals on the Amtrak-owned Harrisburg Line, also known as the Keystone Line.

17. KOP Rail Project Releases Refined Route & Receives an FTA Grant

On Tuesday, December 1, 2020, the King of Prussia Rail Project released the Refined Route and five proposed stations. Refinements since 2017 include detailed engineering analysis of the rail alignment and guideway design, minor modifications to station locations and designs, initial assessments of potential property and environmental impacts, studies of rail operations, and other details. These design refinements are the direct result of community input, comments at the public hearings and other stakeholder meetings, coordination with affected property owners, engineering criteria, and continued review of the existing land use and future development opportunities. The Federal Transit Authority awarded the project a $360,000 Transit Oriented Development Planning grant to help actualize the extension.

18. Delaware Third Track Project Completion

On Monday, December 7, 2020, Amtrak hosted a media event to celebrate the completion of the Delaware Third Track Project. Construction began in October 2012 and was kicked off with a similar media event. This project has a long history - nearly 20 years in the making - which made the ribbon cutting an even more momentous occasion. The completion of this project marks an important rail capacity expansion milestone on the Northeast Corridor, resolving bottlenecks which previously constrained SEPTA and Amtrak from operating service at maximum capacity. It will improve operational efficiency for both Amtrak and SEPTA. This was a major undertaking – particularly while maintaining service throughout construction.

19. SEPTA and Drexel Partner to Battle COVID-19

Researchers from Drexel University will be working with SEPTA on a partnership aimed at enhancing efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation. The partnership will focus on understanding the role of masks, ventilation, air treatment and surface cleaning in preventing transmission of the virus, developing strategies that SEPTA can deploy in the near future and guiding the agency in communicating these new safety protocols. It will draw on the expertise of faculty from Drexel’s College of Engineering, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and Health Professions and the Dornsife School of Public Health.

20. SEPTA Board Approves Transit Planning Consultant Nelson/Nygaard

On Thursday, December 17, 2020, the SEPTA Board approved the selection of transit planning consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard to support the Authority’s Comprehensive Bus Network Redesign initiative (CBNR). This represents a major step forward for this transformative effort. It will take approximately three years to complete the necessary planning and implementation of CBNR.

We thank all of our SEPTA customers, partners, stakeholders, and employees for moving these initiatives forward. We continue to take the necessary steps to keep our system safe and healthy to connect you to work, healthcare, and school. And we will continue to drive the region’s recovery in 2021.

Thank you for riding with us in 2020 - and for those still working from home - we’re ready when you are!

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