50 years of public transit milestones and memories

Posted on April 18, 2014 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.

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