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The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is a regional quasi-public state agency that serves 3.8 million people in five counties in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania region. SEPTA follows an all-four approach to public transportation, operating bus, subway and elevated rail, commuter rail, trolley , and trackless trolley service (temporarily suspended in 2003 and restored service as of April 2008), and manages construction projects that repair, replace, and expand the existing system.

The five Pennsylvania counties that SEPTA serves are: the combined city and county of Philadelphia, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Chester County. SEPTA also serves New Castle County in Delaware, and Mercer County in New Jersey

SEPTA has the fifth largest transit system in the US, with 280 active stations, over 450 miles of track, 2,295 revenue vehicles, 196 routes, and about 306.9 million annual unlinked trips. Average weekday ridership across the system is about 1,000,000 passengers. SEPTA also operates Shared-Ride services in Philadelphia and ADA services across the region. SEPTA has a workforce of over 9,000.

SEPTA's headquarters is at 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107.



Main article: Philadelphia Subway

The Subway system consist of 3 heavy rail lines, 1 light rail lines system and 2 light rail-trolly lines system.


  • Trackless trolley (Trolleybus): Two of SEPTA's trackless trolley routes are currently operated with buses. Routes 29, 59, 66, 75, and 79 were run with trackless trolleys until diesel buses replaced them in 2002 and 2003. Trackless trolley service resumed on Routes 66 and 75 on April 14, 2008, and on Route 59 the following day. Due to public outcry, routes 29 & 79 are now being run with diesel-electric buses.
  • Routes 23 and 56 are currently operated with buses. There are current plans to restore service to Routes 23 & 56 between 2016 & 2023.


SEPTA lists 121 bus routes, not including over 50 school trips, with most routes in the City of Philadelphia proper. Currently, SEPTA generally employs lettered, one and two-digit route numbering for its City Division routes, 90-series and 100-series numbers routes for its Victory ("Red Arrow") Division (Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties) and its Frontier Division (Montgomery and Bucks Counties), 200-series routes for its Regional Rail connector routes (Routes 201, 204 and 206 in Montgomery & Chester Counties), 300-series routes for other routes, and 400-series routes for limited service buses to schools.

Commuter Rail[]

Called Regional Rail, SEPTA's commuter rail service is run by the SEPTA Regional Rail division. This division operates 13 lines serving more than 150 stations covering most of the five county southeastern Pennsylvania region. It also runs trains to Newark, Delaware and Trenton, New Jersey.

SEPTA Divisions[]

SEPTA has three major operating divisions: City Transit, Suburban, and Regional Rail. These divisions reflect the different transit and railroad operations that SEPTA has assumed.

City Transit Division[]

The City Transit Division operates routes mostly within the City of Philadelphia, including buses, subway-surface trolleys, the Market-Frankford Line, and the Broad Street Line. Some of its routes extend into Montgomery and Bucks counties. This division is the descendant of the Philadelphia Transit Company (PTC). There are six depots in this division.

  • Callowhill Depot (buses and streetcars)
  • Elmwood Depot (streetcars only)
  • Frankford Depot (buses and trackless trolleys)
  • Comly Depot (buses only)
  • Midvale Depot (buses only)
  • Allegheny Depot (articulated buses only)
  • Southern Depot (buses and trackless trolleys---currently suspended)
  • Germantown Depot (buses only---contract operations)

Suburban Division[]

Victory Division[]

The Victory Division operates suburban bus and trolley (or light rail) routes that are based at 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby in Delaware County. Its routes include the Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100) light rail line that runs from 69th Street Terminal to Norristown and the SEPTA Surface Media and Sharon Hill Trolley Lines (Routes 101 and 102). This division is the descendant of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, also known as the Red Arrow Lines. Most residents of the Victory Division operating area still refers this division as the "Red Arrow Division."

Frontier Division[]

The Frontier Division operates suburban bus routes that are based at the Norristown Transportation Center in Montgomery County and bus lines that serve eastern Bucks County. This division is the descendant of the Schuylkill Valley Lines.

In addition, the 204 route emanating from the Paoli station is contracted to Krapf's Coaches.

Regional Rail Division[]

Main article: SEPTA Regional Rail

The Regional Rail Division (RRD) operates commuter railroad routes that all, except for the R6 Cynwyd line, go through the Center City Commuter Connection Tunnel, stopping at 30th Street Station, Suburban Station, and Market East Station. There are 13 branches that extend as far as Newark, Delaware and Trenton, New Jersey, where one can take NJ Transit or Amtrak to New York City. This division is the descendant of the 6 commuter lines of the Reading Company (RDG) and the 7 commuter lines of Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR, later Penn Central: PC) railroads. As of September 2010, the R-number designation of the routes have been dropped and only the terminus destination is used as the route name (for example: the R5 to Norristown is now the Manayunk/Norristown Line).

SEPTA's railroad reporting mark SPAX can be see on non-revenue work equipment including boxcars, diesel locomotives, and other rolling stock.


Pennsylvania state charter created SEPTA on August 17, 1963. On November 1, 1965, SEPTA absorbed two predecessor agencies. The first predecessor agency, the Passenger Service Improvement Corporation (PSIC), had been created on January 20, 1960 to work with the Reading Company and Pennsylvania Railroad to improve commuter rail service and help the railroads maintain otherwise unprofitable passenger rail service. The city of Philadelphia and Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester counties created the other predecessor agency, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Compact (SEPACT), on September 8, 1961 to coordinate regional transport issues.

SEPTA was chartered with the purpose of coordinating government subsidies to various transit and railroad companies in southeastern Pennsylvania. This included the Reading Company and Pennsylvania Railroad commuter railroad lines, and by 1966, all of these commuter railroad lines were operated under contract to SEPTA. On February 1, 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with the New York Central railroad to become Penn Central, only to file for bankruptcy on June 21, 1970. Penn Central continued to operate in bankruptcy until 1976 when Conrail took over its assets along with several other bankrupt railroads, including the Reading Company. Conrail continued to operate commuter services under contract to SEPTA until January 1, 1983, when SEPTA officially took over operations and acquired track, rolling stock, and other assets to form the Railroad Division.

SEPTA acquired the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) on September 30, 1968, which included bus, trolley, and trackless trolley routes, and the Market-Frankford Line and the Broad Street Line in the City of Philadelphia. This became the City Transit Division. (Established as the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company in 1907 by the merger of a group of then independent transit companies operating within the city and its environs, the system became the PTC in 1940.)

On January 30, 1970, SEPTA acquired the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, also known as the Red Arrow Lines, which included the Philadelphia and Western Railroad (P&W) route now called the Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100), the Media and Sharon Hill Lines (Routes 101 and 102), and several suburban bus routes in Delaware County. Today, this is the Victory Division, though it is sometimes referred to as the Red Arrow Division.

In 1976, SEPTA acquired the Schuylkill Valley Lines, which is today the Frontier Division.

Past General Managers include John "Jack" Leary, Lou Gambaccini, and David L. Gunn. Past Acting General Managers include Jim Kilcur and Bill Stead.

2005 Strike[]

SEPTA's contracts with its transit operators expired in April and May, 2005. In October 2005, the Transport Workers Union Local 234 and the United Transportation Union Local 1594 set a strike deadline effective Halloween morning, October 31, 2005 at 12:01 am. The reason the strike occurred was due to disagreement between SEPTA management and union leadership regarding employees' contributions to healthcare. Before the strike, SEPTA tried to negotiate with the union, offering them a new deal whereby SEPTA union employees would pay 5% of their salary towards healthcare costs. The SEPTA union refused the offer, arguing that when cost of living increases and inflation are factored in, its members would actually make less money than before. Negotiators walked out of contract negotiations minutes before that deadline when they failed to come to a conclusion. All employees in the City, Victory, and Frontier Divisions walked off the job, resulting in a complete suspension of service on all bus, trolley, and subway lines. Service on the regional rail division continued according to contingency plans, with service added to certain stations to help transport displaced city and suburban division passengers. This work stoppage stranded approximately 400,000 riders daily, impacting around 1,000,000 rides daily, forcing commuters to car-pool, walk, or arrange other alternative methods of transportation. In addition, over 27,000 public school students who receive free or subsidized transit tokens were forced to miss school completely or have their days cut short due to transportation issues.

In the early morning of [November 7, 2005, a preliminary agreement had been reached between SEPTA management and union leadership. Service on all affected transit lines was fully restored by the late afternoon. This agreement was due in large part to the intervention by former Philadelphia mayor, and current Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell.



All buses currently in service are wheelchair accessible.

  • Neoplan AN460A OQ
  • New Flyer Industries D40LF
  • New Flyer Industries DE40LF
  • New Flyer Industries DE40LFR
  • New Flyer Industries E40LFR Trackless Trolley Buses with Vossloh Kiepe propulsion (38 on order)
  • NABI 416.08TA
  • ElDorado National Transmark RE29
  • Champion Bus Incorporated Defender 27 ft

Subway Cars[]

  • Market-Frankford Line
    • AdTranz M4 subway cars 1997-1999
      • 218 cars total
      • seats 49, and 54 standees
      • top speed 55 mph
      • 55 feet 2 inches long, 9 feet 2 inches wide, 13 feet high
      • 750 V DC third rail power
  • Broad Street Line: Kawasaki B-IV 1982
    • numbered 501 to 576 and 651 to 699
    • seats 68, and 68 standees
    • top speed at least 75 mph (witnessed on northbound "Phillies Express")
    • 67 feet 6 inches long, 10 feet 1.5 inches wide, 12 feet 3 inches high
    • 600 V DC third rail power
      • Standard track gauge (4' 8-1/2"/1435 mm)

Light Rail Vehicles[]

  • ABB N-5 cars (Norristown High Speed Line)
    • numbered 130 to 155
    • delivered 1992 to 1993
    • weighs about 82,000 pounds
    • 65 feet long, 8 foot 9 inches wide
    • equipped with third-rail shoes for 630 V DC power
    • can be fitted with pantographs for overhead catenary power
    • seats 56
      • Standard track gauge (4' 8-1/2")
      • Boeing-Vertol LRV - retired


  • St. Louis Car Company PCC II (rebuilt by Kiepe Elektrik and Brookville Equipment Corporation in 2003)
  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries single end LRV 1981
  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries double end LRV 1981
    • "Pennsylvania Trolley" track gauge (5' 2-1/2"/1587 mm) (5' 2-1/4"/1581 mm?, see Broad gauge overview)

Regional rail trains[]

  • Budd Silverliner II MU
    • numbered 201 to 219, 251 to 269 (Pennsylvania R.R.), and 9001 to 9017 (Reading Lines)
    • No. 210 destroyed by electrical fire, 1974
    • No. 265 destroyed in collision near Angora station, 1979
    • No. 269 still carries "PENNSYLVANIA" name boards
    • originally built in 1963 for the Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Company
    • rebuilt by Morrison Knudsen
    • 624 hp (four 156 hp @ 1,700 rpm DC motors)
    • top speed: 85 mph
    • seats 124 to 127
    • empty weight 101,400 pounds
  • St. Louis Car Company Silverliner III MU
    • numbered 220 to 239
    • No. 224 damaged and written off in head on collision near Willow Grove, PA, 2006
    • originally built in 1967 for the Pennsylvania Railroad for Harrisburg-Philadelphia service
    • engineer sits on left side of cab, unlike most other trains
    • rebuilt by Morrison Knudsen
    • 624 hp (four 156 hp @ 1,700 rpm DC motors)
    • top speed: 85 mph
    • seats 122
    • empty weight 101,400 pounds
  • GE Silverliner IV MU
    • 232 cars total; 231 active
    • original numbers PC 270-303, RDG 9018-9031 (single units); PC 304-399, RDG 101-188 (married pairs)
    • current original number range is 101-188 and 270-399, with gaps; 9018-9031 either renumbered to 400s (see below) or to vacancies in the 270-303 series caused by the 400 program
    • 400-series renumberings (~60 single and married units chosen at random) have new main transformers (non-PCB) for operation on the R5
    • one car (RDG 9020) destroyed in collision North Wales, PA 1980
    • built in years 1974 to 1977 by Avco and GE
    • top speed 95 to 100 mph
    • seats 125
    • empty weight 125,000 pounds
  • Rotem Silverliner V MU
    • 120 ordered, 66 in revenue service by March 2012
    • will replace outdated Silverliner II and III models
    • top speed 95 to 100 mph
    • seats 110 and will be ADA compliant with center-opening high-level platform doors
    • empty weight 125,000 pounds
  • AEM-7 locomotives
    • numbered 2301 to 2307
    • built by ASEA and delivered November 1, 1987
    • weighs 202,000 pounds
    • 7,000 hp
  • ALP-44 locomotive
    • numbered 2308
    • built by ABB as part of settlement for late delivery of N-5 cars
    • weighs about 198,400 pounds
    • 7,000 hp
  • Bombardier Transportation coach trailers
    • Original order of 25 coach trailers and 10 cab control cars without center doors delivered November 1, 1987
    • Additional order of 10 coach trailers with center doors delivered May 2000
    • weighs about 100,000 pounds empty
    • coach trailers seat 131, cab cars seat 118, center door cars seat 117

Maintenance of way vehicles[]

  • C-145 snow sweeper 1923
  • Harsco Track Technologies Corporation work car
  • PCC work car 2194
  • SEPTA Railroad OPS-3161 work car
  • W-56 work Car
  • W-61 work Car

Maintenance facilities[]

  • 69th Street Yard
  • Allegheny Depot
  • Callowhill Depot
  • Comly Depot
  • Elmwood Depot
  • Fern Rock Yard
  • Frankford Depot
  • Frazer Yard
  • Frontier Depot
  • Midvale District
  • Overbrook Maintenance Facility
  • Roberts Yard
  • Southern Depot
  • Woodland Maintenance Facility
  • Wyoming Shops
  • Victory Depot (69th Street)
  • Germantown Brakes Maintenance Facility


SEPTA is governed by a fifteen member board of directors. The five counties (Philadelphia, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Chester County) appoint two members each, the leaders of the Pennsylvania State Legislature appoints four members, and the Governor of Pennsylvania appoints one.

Other transit agencies in the Philadelphia region[]

See also[]

External links[]

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
City Transit Division Market-Frankford Line - Broad Street Line - Subway-Surface Lines - Girard Avenue Trolley (Route 15) - City surface routes
Suburban Division Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100) - Suburban Trolley Lines (Routes 101 & 102) - Suburban bus routes
Regional Rail R1 - R2 - R3 - R5 - R6 - R7 - R8
Major Stations Frankford Transportation Center - Market East Station - Suburban Station - 30th Street Station - 69th Street Terminal
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