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septa transitRemember we told you about SEPTA’s announcement at the Philadelphia Bike Expo last fall? All that stuff about new bike parking at SEPTA stations? (If not, read it here.) Well, SEPTA recently released their 2015 Sustainability Plan and it includes the Authority’s first ever Cycle-Transit plan, laying out SEPTA’s vision for “finding new ways to support multimodal transportation in order to grow ridership.”

“For SEPTA, the benefit of better integration with the bicycle network is increased system capacity,” reads the plan’s executive summary. “At a time when SEPTA’s ridership is near quarter-century highs and auto parking lots are approaching maximum utilization, encouraging cycle-transit use can serve as a relatively inexpensive strategy to grow and accommodate ridership.”

Evidently, SEPTA see bikes as a potential answer in areas where car parking is limited, particularly on Regional Rail.

“A key focus of SEPTA’s sustainability programs in 2014 was the development of its first-ever cycle-transit plan, to better serve the growing demand for multimodal commuting and recreational travel,” Public Information Manager Manny Smith recently told Main Line Media News.

Temple Station’s covered bike parking is mentioned as an example of something they would like to deploy in other areas. SEPTA also plans to pilot changes to the interior layout of Market-Frankford and Regional Rail cars to see how feasible it would be to lift the rush hour bans, as has been done successfully in New York and San Francisco.

In short, we applaud SEPTA’s plan for successfully outlining a strategy that will move the agency in a positive direction.  Now that SEPTA’s capital budget is in better condition, we are eager for SEPTA to begin this plan’s implementation.

We encourage you to read SEPTA’s plan and let us know what you think, either in the comments section, or by tweeting at us: @bcgp. For our part, here are the things the Bicycle Coalition would like to see SEPTA move forward with:

  • Partnering on planning initiatives seeking to improve non-motorized access to stations in high-priority corridors by developing web applications showing trails and transit linkages, as well as developing new applications to track bicycle-transit usage. We feel that such new developments would not only help bring SEPTA’s digital interactions with its customers into the 21st Century, but would also help keep cyclists safer when traveling to and from transit.
  • Developing context-sensitive bicycle infrastructure—i.e., bike racks, and protected ones, inside and at SEPTA stations. Specifically, we’d like to see bike cages (similar to what Boston’s Mass Transit system has developed) inside Suburban Station, the South Broad Concourse and 30th Street Station and high-quality sheltered bike parking at Regional Rail stations, as identified here.  Better bike parking will encourage more people to use their bike to commute to a SEPTA station without having to worry about thieves or inclement weather.

boston

  • Integrating with Indego Bike Share to ensure connectivity between transit and bike share. This one is important; we’d like bike share to one day be as accessible for all Philadelphians as SEPTA is today. To do that, it is imperative that users be able to use their SEPTA key cards and/or Indego keys interchangeably through fare integration. In other words, wouldn’t it be cool if you had one key card with money on it that you could use for both Ride Indego and SEPTA?
  • More Bikes on trains: SEPTA says in their report that they’d like to ease restrictions where possible to allow for more peak-period bikes on transit. We heartily support easing restrictions during peak hours and want to encourage SEPTA to take more steps to add capacity on trains for bicycles. And for future rail car purchases, it’d be great if SEPTA specifically ordered trains with dedicated space for bicycles.

train cars

Generally, this report makes clear that SETPA not only sees an advantage working with bicycles, they realize the different roles it can play to grow their network of service.  They want to move in a systematic way to maintain progress in accommodating bikes by working with stakeholders, and increase momentum for bike use on their system. This is good.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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