SEPTA offers a different type of school bus

Posted on September 18, 2013 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

Students wait to take the Broad Street Line subway at City Hall Station — the line’s busiest station — during  the morning rush hour. Photo courtesy SEPTA.
Students wait to take the Broad Street Line subway at City Hall Station — the line’s busiest station — during  the morning rush hour. Photo courtesy SEPTA.

The bell ushering in the new academic year has rung and across the country children have headed back to school. For millions of students, getting to and from school means taking the bus. For those kids in major cities, that doesn’t mean the typical yellow bus, but a public transit bus, or even the subway.

In Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) transports approximately 58,000 of 134,000 public school students from a variety of grade levels every day, many using more than one mode of transit. Add to that 58,000 the thousands of parochial, private and charter school students commuting on public transit and you have close to 100,000 students using the SEPTA trains, buses and trolleys throughout the day, sometimes at the height of the morning and late afternoon rush hours.

For some adults who aren’t frequent transit riders, the thought of children traveling to and from school via a city bus or subway may seem daunting. But planning and collaboration between transit organizations, school districts and families can make the transition to using public transportation an easy one.

SEPTA recently launched its online School Trip Planner. Using the tool, students who are moving to new institutions as a result of school closures simply look up their previous schools to find routes that service their new institution.

“It gives three, four, five options, whether it’s the bus, trolley or the subway,” said Ron Hopkins, SEPTA assistant GM for operations. “We’ll tell you what station it is.”

Students and parents can click on the name of the new school to find route options from their homes. In a matter of seconds, the trip planner will provide the best travel routes. The agency’s regular online trip planner can also assist students who are attending other schools this year. SEPTA and the School District of Philadelphia encouraged parents and children to map out their routes before classes started and take “trial runs” to become familiar with stops, travel times and options.

And, to make using public transit an even more viable travel option for all students leaving their neighborhoods, since 2007, SEPTA has offered limited use Student Weekday Passes. The program was designed to provide free school-related transportation to Philadelphia middle and secondary school students, Mondays through Fridays from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Prior to this, the school district required parents to purchase school tokens for their children. The district estimates the total quantity of passes needed for each school week and submits the order and payment to SEPTA. Passes are provided to the district in bulk and distributed to students by their schools. SEPTA calculates the number of passes actually used for travel for a specific week and credits the district for the unused passes.  

Offering extra travel assistance to students is not only good public service, it also helps public transit organizations cultivate the next generation of riders.

“For many of these kids, this is their first real exposure to our buses, trains and trolleys,” said Hopkins. “If we can teach them at a young age how convenient and reliable our service is, we may gain lifelong SEPTA customers.”

RELATED: "Chicago transit partnership to offer free student rides"

View comments or post a comment on this story. (1 Comment)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

April 26, 2017

How Streetcars are Meeting the Needs of Modern Cities

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood elements of modern streetcars is what they can offer a city, and in particular, what they can offer that other modes of transportation can’t.

April 25, 2017

The Benefits and Challenges of IoT in Public Transportation

In 2017, nearly 60% of all installed IoT devices in smart cities were used in smart commercial buildings and transportation. IoT devices can help the public transportation industry reduce costs in significant ways. Consider these four ways IoT is impacting the transportation industry’s bottom line...

April 18, 2017

The Road to the Next Generation of Mobility

Today, in cities and towns across the country, mayors, city commissioners, governors, state legislatures, and even the President, are looking for ways to make our nation’s highways, roads, bridges, airports, public transit systems, and other key pieces of infrastructure once again the envy of the world.

April 5, 2017

From Mobility to Emergencies: Public Transit's Role

Transit’s role as a public service is much more than driving millions of riders — many of whom have no other transportation option — every day. Mass transit authorities can often be called upon to assist during an emergency event.

March 22, 2017

How Cities Are Embracing Streetcars Once Again

The streetcar might seem like a transit method of the past, but look at some of the major metropolitan areas in the U.S. — Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington D.C. and Orange County — and it’s clear that cities are starting to embrace the streetcar once again. While it’s one cog in the wheel of a comprehensive transit system, streetcar systems can act as a boon for economic development, and a powerful tool for revitalizing sagging corridors and attracting the much-sought after talent of a young, hip workforce who choose to reduce, delay, or completely forego car ownership.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (1)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close