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April 18, 2014

50 years of public transit milestones and memories

by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

1964 was a momentous year for transportation.

Car enthusiasts will remember it as the year Ford revolutionized the auto industry with the introduction of the Mustang.

In the public transit world, 1964 marked the world’s first high-speed rail network (in Japan), the first driverless train (on the London Underground - video), double-decker cars being introduced on suburban railways in Sydney and Northern California breaking ground — with President Lyndon B. Johnson in attendance — on the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) system.

Fifty years ago was an important time for public transportation in the Philadelphia region, too. On Feb. 18, 1964, the organizational meeting that established what is now the nation's sixth largest transportation agency— the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) — was held.


SEPTA was formed at a time when local, nearly bankrupt transit and rail companies were looking to exit the passenger business altogether. The transit system was charged with the planning, development, and coordination of a regional transportation system for Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery (Pa.) counties, which started with the absorption of the Philadelphia Transit Co. (PTC) in September 1968.


 SEPTA will celebrate its golden anniversary throughout 2014, posting "Throwback Thursday" and "Flashback Friday" features on a special website. And, in keeping with its commitment to public service, the agency is asking passengers to join the party by sharing their "first ride" stories and participating in contests via iSEPTAPHILLY.com.

“We know that there are people who, although they have moved from the Philadelphia region, still fondly recall taking the train to the city for special family day out or riding the bus to school,” said SEPTA GM Joe Casey. “We are inviting all of our customers, past and current, near and far, to send their SEPTA memories.“



SEPTA is also using its anniversary to establish an official archive, to which the public, transit enthusiasts, and current and former transit system employees can contribute SEPTA artifacts and memorabilia they have collected over the last 50 years.

“This is the first time we will host a formal site for SEPTA photos, documents and keepsakes,” said Casey.

For information about SEPTA’s fabulous 50th festivities and how to contribute memories and items to the archive, click here.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Transit tech's future showcased at ITS World Congress"

Heather Redfern

Public Information Manager, SEPTA


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Author Bio

Heather Redfern

Public Information Manager, SEPTA


Marcia Ferranto

President/CEO, WTS International

Marcia Ferranto is President/CEO of WTS International.


Scott Belcher

President and CEO, Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America)


Joe Zavisca

Joe Zavisca is an independent consultant specializing in paratransit service.


Paul Mackie

Communications Director, Mobility Lab

Paul Mackie is communications director at Mobility Lab, a leading U.S. voice of “transportation demand management.”


Rob Taylo

Founder/CEO SinglePoint Communications

Rob Taylo is founder/CEO of SinglePoint Communications, an exclusive U.S. distributor of WiFi in Motion.


Joel Volinski

Director, National Center for Transit Research at CUTR/USF


Zack Shubkagel

Partner/Creative Director of Willoughby Design

Zack Shubkagel is partner and creative director for the San Francisco office of Willoughby Design, a strategic branding and design firm.


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