MOTU Announcement | Philadelphia Transit Shelter Project

In the next 5 years, the City of Philadelphia will double the number of transit shelters in the city. We will replace existing transit shelters with a new design, and we will add transit shelters to new locations.

To better inform this process, MOTU is seeking public feedback to help prioritize transit shelter locations. To vote, visit:

This website includes a map of possible locations based on the below criteria:

  • ridership
  • requests by citizens, local agencies and elected officials
  • availability of space on the sidewalk
  • proximity to hospitals
  • proximity to shopping centers
  • proximity to senior centers
  • proximity to community centers

Vote today and share with your friends.



Join the SEPTA Citizen Advisory Committee


SEPTA is looking for Philadelphia residents to join its Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC)!

The CAC is a forum for regular SEPTA riders to work with the Authority to advocate for public transit.  SEPTA invites you to apply (by April 4th) to join the committee if you feel strongly about transit and are interested in representing other riders. To join, you should have the following qualifications:

  • Committed to collaborative engagement;
  • Proven track record of community volunteerism;
  • Familiar with Philadelphia neighborhoods and transit;
  • Able to commit to no less than 12 hours per month to the duties of the position, which include attending a monthly general meeting, a monthly subcommittee meeting, as well as a quarterly meeting with other City representatives;
  • Attend or host, in conjunction with SEPTA, local community meetings to discuss transit and transit related issues;
  • Have no outstanding back taxes.

To learn more and to apply, go to Applications can also be requested via the Philly 311 line. Submit applications by April 4, 2014.

Tidbit Tuesday | Transportation Mode-Split

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

This week we explored the breakdown of the different modes that Philadelphians use to get to work and how this compares to the country as a whole.  Philadelphians walk, bike, and take public transit to work at a higher rate than the entire country, while Americans as a whole drive more to work than Philadelphians.

tidbittuesday_27-01All of our data is courtesy of the 2011 ACS which can be accessed using American FactFinder.

Tidbit Tuesday — Changes in How Philadelphians Get to Work

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

This week we take a look at how Philadelphians’ transportation commute percentages have changed between 2000 and 2010. How do you get to work?  Has it changed between 2000 and 2010?

Year over Year Change-01

Here are the numbers behind the graph — Those who commute to work by public transit increased from 144,936 in 2000 to 159,475 in 2010 and also increased the share of all of Philadelphia’s commuters taking public transportation from 25.44% to 26.42%, showing a share percentage increase of 3.87%.  Those working from home increased from 10,752 in 2000 to 15,803 in 2010 and also increased the share of total workers working from home from 1.89% to 2.62%, showing a share percentage increase of 38.75%.  Bicycling also saw increases.  In 2000, 4,908 commuters biked to work while in 2010, 9,839 commuters biked to work and also increased the share of total workers commuting by bicycle from 0.86% to 1.6%, showing a share increase of 89.24%.  This graphic shows that walking and driving to work both saw transportation share decreases in the same timespan.  There were 51,564 Philadelphians who walked to work in 2000 and 50,680 in 2010. The share of commuters who walked to work also decreased from 9.05% to 8.39%, showing a percentage decrease of 7.22%.  Car commuters showed an increase with 353,471 individuals commuting by car in 2000 and 362,927 2010.  While this is an increase in the total number of car commuters, car commuting as a percentage of all commute modes decreased its share from 62.04% to 60.13%, thus a share decrease (as shown in the graphic) of 3.07%.

*Note: All data is based on the 2000 Census and the 2006-2010 American Community Survey.  The raw data for this infographic can be found by using the US Census’ American FactFinder Tool.  In addition, the following transportation mode categories were excluded — “motorcycles” and “other” — for ease of reading.  If you would like to see more about how these transportation modes have changed by section of Philadelphia, check out this map!

Tidbit Tuesday — Trends in PATCO and Vehicle Traffic

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

Last week, we found that one out of four people crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge each year do so on PATCO, while a little over two-thirds are in private vehicles.  Today, we take a look back in time and find out how those mode choices have been trending.

PATCO and BFB Traffic

Compared to 2002, PATCO ridership was 13% higher in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.  Private vehicle crossings increased during the mid-2000s but have fallen slightly since then.

These trends track with national trends in vehicle miles traveled and public transportation ridership in recent years.

Data is courtesy of the Delaware River Port Authority’s 2011 Annual Report.

Tidbit Tuesday — Benjamin Franklin Bridge Crossings

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is one of the most iconic of Philadelphia landmarks.  Each day, hundreds of thousands of people depend on the bridge to cross between Philadelphia and New Jersey.  Altogether, the bridge handles seven lanes of traffic, PATCO trains, and a walkway for pedestrians and bicyclists.

This week, we take a quick look at the travel modes people use to cross.


To arrive at our numbers, traffic volumes and PATCO ridership were found in the most recent Delaware River Port Authority annual report:  Private vehicle occupancy was based on the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, and we assumed buses to be carrying an average of 35 passengers each.

Designing a Comfortable and Convenient Subway Car (No Middle Seats!)

If you’re a regular bus, trolley, or el rider, you probably know of the best places to stand or the most coveted seats in a transit vehicle. You might favor a seat with a window or that spot by the door knowing that you can jump off first at your stop. Your choice may even depending on whether you’re hopping on for a few stops or settling in for a cross-town ride.

Some service planners at New York City Transit Authority and the Metro-North Railroad set out to document and measure how people sit, stand, and circulate on New York City subway trains. As they mention in a current working paper, the interior layouts of their trains haven’t changed much in decades, and a redesign would have the potential to get more use out of limited space and make customers more comfortable.

What did these planners discover? Their most striking observation was that people really do not like “middle” seats—nobody wants to sit between two strangers without any physical separation. Riders frequently choose to stand rather than take an open “middle” seat. Such seats were more attractive, though, if poles or partitions split up a long row of seats into discrete pairs, effectively equipping every seat with a separator on at least one side.

They also found that when standing, passengers overwhelmingly prefer holding on to vertical poles rather than overhead bars or hanging straps. Passengers liked to congregate near the doors and only move in to the aisles as a last resort.


In this illustration from the study, layout (a) depicts a typical existing subway car, as viewed from above (the blue areas are seats). Layouts (b) and (c) are two recommendations developed by the authors that provide the same number of seats but eliminate the dreaded “middle” ones by strategically positioning separators. They also rearrange the doors so that they no longer face each other, creating a more open feel that encourages passengers to move further into all available standing areas.

The results of this study will potentially be applied to future generations of subway cars in New York City, but more research would help to confirm that these findings can extend to other cities and other types of vehicles. Bus and light-rail trains, for example, often only allow boarding at the front door to collect fares, which probably results in a different pattern of standing room and seat selection.  Varying travel distances and degrees of congestion among different markets would also influence local customer preferences.

The Broad Street Subway uses both transverse and longitudinal seats. (Image from

The Broad Street Subway uses both transverse and longitudinal seats. (Image from

Philadelphia is served by three heavy-rail lines with vehicles similar to those examined in the study. On the Market-Frankford and PATCO Lines, transverse seating provides more places to sit but less overall passenger capacity compared to a longitudinal layout. The Broad Street Line uses a mixed longitudinal and transverse seating plan.

The Federal Transit Administration estimates the useful life of a heavy-rail vehicle at 25 years, with many actually used for longer, so design decisions are made in advance of an entire generation of riders. Transit agencies have limited means to respond to changing trends, such as the 14% increase in SEPTA system ridership since 2006. Facing similar growth, Chicago decided to transition from transverse to longitudinal seating in their new vehicle purchases, while Boston has removed seats entirely from a few subway cars.

We want to hear from you: Would you rather have a better chance of finding a seat or have the room to quickly get on and off the train? How would you design a future generation of heavy rail vehicles?

Measuring the Impact of Public Transportation Access and Funding Decisions on Public Health

Public transportation operators must frequently make decisions on how to much service to run, where to run it, what amenities to offer, and how to set fares.  In a time of limited budgets, these decisions usually involve difficult trade-offs.  Alameda County, home to Oakland, California, has had transit service cuts and fare increases in recent years, so the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) wanted to study how these decisions impact public health.  ACPHD believes that documenting these impacts will encourage local leaders to give them serious consideration when setting budgets and developing service plans.

Over the past year, ACPHD partnered with several other agencies and non-profits to conduct surveys and focus groups asking local bus riders about their health circumstances, access to work, activities, and appointments, and the effects of service cuts and fare increases on their daily lives.  Beyond asking directly about access to health care, healthy foods, or recreation, ACPHD investigated other key factors that help a person stay healthy.  For example, after recent cuts to bus services, 28% of those interviewed reported a major increase in commute time of 30 minutes or more, and another 19% reported a similar lengthening of the time it takes to get to school.  Long commutes have been linked to increased stress and less time for sleep and exercise.  They can also limit the number of hours a person can work, reducing the ability to afford basic needs for maintaining good health.  For some riders, fare increases also meant less spending on food, social activities, and health care visits, all factors important for good health.

Many residents in Alameda County do not have access to a car, and prior studies had shown that lower-income people and people of color in their region rely heavily on bus services in particular.  These groups also face higher health burdens and live in areas with fewer health-promoting resources.  Philadelphia is similar to Alameda County in that over 35% of Philadelphia households do not have any vehicles available, and only half of workers travel to work by car, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Both of these measures indicate that our residents share many of the concerns about quality bus service as those examined by Alameda County.

However, SEPTA faces a $38 million deficit in the operating budget for the coming fiscal year, expected to grow to $160 million by 2018.  Additionally, an economic analysis of SEPTA published last month highlights just a $304 million capital budget available in 2013 for a capital needs backlog of $4.7 billion.  This illustrates the difficult decision-making context SEPTA must navigate to provide public mobility while maintaining affordable fares and constrained budgets.  Looking west at the Pittsburgh Port Authority, similar budget shortfalls required a 35% service cut in early 2011, scaled back to 15% only after an emergency fund transfer.  Another budget gap was looming in 2012, threatening to raise fares while eliminating 46 bus routes and ending most other service at 10 p.m.  While the cuts were later temporarily delayed with emergency funding, these actions would have seriously reduced the access to jobs, social connection, and affordability of basic needs that ACPHD identified as factors for maintaining public health.

The farmers’ market at the Frankford Transportation Center in Northeast Philadelphia will reopen for the 2013 season in just a few weeks. Image courtesy of

Still, SEPTA has managed to support some of the public health goals identified by the ACPHD such as protecting job access by operating overnight service on key bus routes that accommodate non-traditional hours.  It has also partnered with organizations to host farmers markets at major SEPTA hubs including the Olney and Frankford Transportation Centers, increasing access to fresh produce options that are accessible without a car.  An additional 38 farmers’ markets can be found at or near other SEPTA stations and routes.

The Food Trust, which organizes many of these markets, has additional information on Philadelphia farmer’s markets:

Tidbit Tuesday — How have commute patterns changed from 2000 to today?

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.  As a follow-up to our three-part series about how many people travel to work by driving, taking public transit, or biking/walking, this week we will be exploring how these patterns have changed between 2000 and today!

The first commuters we will look at are those who drive to work:

The North and Lower North districts appears to have increased in the percentage of commuters who drive to work while the West Park, Lower Southwest, Lower South, and South districts all decreased the percent of commuters to drive to work.

The next commuters we will look at are those who take public transit to work:


The Lower Southwest, Lower South, Upper North, and Lower Far Northeast districts appears to have increased in the percentage of commuters who take public transit to work while the Lower North and Upper Northwest districts decreased the percent of commuters take public transit to work.

The final commuters we will look at are those who bike or walk to work:


The Upper Northwest, Lower Northeast, West Park, and South districts appears to have increased in the percentage of commuters who walk or bike to work while the Riverwards district decreased the percentage of commuters that walk or bike to work.

These maps underline the facts that Philadelphians travel to work by a variety of modes and these modes can change from decade to decade!

New Census Data Describes How Philadelphia Commutes

The US Census recently released new data around transportation and how people commute to and from work.  The Philadelphia Inquirer looked at this newly released census data and found that approximately 253,000 people commute into Philadelphia everyday!  The Philadelphia Inquirer article also describes that 147,000 Philadelphians commute out to the suburbs.  This means that 106,000 more commuters are coming into Philadelphia than leaving.

The Census also released the following graphic to further describe the transportation story here in Philadelphia:


The United Census Census Bureau’s graphic about how Philadelphia commutes —

This data highlights that Philadelphians have a 24% longer commute than the national average, with the average Philadelphians traveling 31.1 minutes.

This data also highlights that Philadelphians are much more likely to travel by a variety of modes.  76.4% of the nation commutes to work by driving alone, only 50% of Philadelphians drove alone.  In addition to this, Philadelphians are much more likely to commut to work by public transportation and bicycle than the national average.  In fact, Philadelphians are 5x more likely to commute by public transportation and 2x more likely to commute by bicycle than the average worker in the US!

Curious about how different parts of Philadelphia commute to work?  Check out our most recent Tidbit Tuesday Series on the topic by looking at the following blog posts:

  1. Who commutes to work by car? —
  2. Who commutes to work by public transit? —
  3. Who commutes to work by walking and biking? —
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