Testing whether Night Owl rail services can 'fly'

Posted on June 18, 2014 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel talks about the new overnight weekend subway service at a rally for customers.
SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel talks about the new overnight weekend subway service at a rally for customers.
Those who depend on mass transit believe that service should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that they can get to where they need to go, whenever they need to get there. In New York, MTA customers can hop on the subway 24 hours a day. In Chicago, CTA riders can use the Blue and Red “L” lines around the clock. But in cities like Boston and Philadelphia, major service lines and routes are not always all that convenient in the early hours of the morning — until now.

Two pilot programs recently launched by MBTA in Boston and SEPTA in Philadelphia are exploring the demand for late night service on the agencies’ most popular lines.

In late March, MBTA extended service on its Red, Orange, Green, Blue, Mattapan and Silver Lines, and 14 bus routes by 90 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays. In just the first month of the year-long pilot, MBTA had more than 72,000 late-night subway trips.     

In Philadelphia, SEPTA offers 24/7 service on 22 bus routes. But since 1991, the authority has substituted overnight rail service on its Broad Street (subway) and Market-Frankford (subway-elevated) lines — its highest ridership modes —with Nite Owl buses. On Sunday, June 15, SEPTA started a summer-long pilot of 24-hour weekend train service on the Broad Street and Marker-Frankford Lines.

RELATED: U. of Mich. pilots late-night, off-campus route

Low ridership was cited as a main reason why SEPTA switched from train to bus service. However, in the 23 years since overnight train service was halted on the subway lines, Philadelphia’s nightlife has become more vibrant, with new restaurants, sports arenas and other attractions opening across the city. With more people out and about later in the evening, a demand for more reliable late night transportation alternatives was created.

“There has been a late-night renaissance in Philadelphia,” said SEPTA GM Joseph M. Casey. “More people are moving back to the city. And, more people are coming into Center City to enjoy the restaurants, and to experience nightlife venues. To get to these spots, Philadelphia officials, community and business leaders and young people asked SEPTA to run trains after midnight. We heard them and decided to introduce the summer weekend pilot.”  

SEPTA will evaluate the weekend late night train program after the summer, examining ridership, staffing costs, safety and other factors to determine if the service should continue.  

The extended service initiatives in Philadelphia and Boston are examples of how agencies keep the “public” in public transportation by listening to customers and the community and working on compromises that can benefit all parties.

In case you missed it...

Read our previous blog, "Keeping your drivers on the bus from ‘hire to retire’"

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

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

September 20, 2017

The Transit Industry's Workforce Challenge is Still Real

Where are we today with the great anticipated retirement wave? It looks like it may finally be starting, if not fully underway. It seems at least a couple times each month we here of a transit CEO who is retiring, technical staff who are leaving, and the difficulty in filling maintenance and operations positions with skilled workers for those who have retired.

September 1, 2017

'See Something Say Something' Gets a Technological Assist

Transportation organizations regularly remind the public to be vigilant when using their systems — to be aware of any suspicious activities and people exhibiting odd behavior, and if they see something, immediately say something to personnel or police.

August 8, 2017

Caught on Tape: Transit Employees' ‘Heroic Acts’

For transit employees working with the public on a daily basis, no two shifts might be the same and each day can bring an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the customers we serve. Often, the acts go unnoticed, but for two SEPTA employees, their special acts — both coming within hours of each other — were caught on video.

August 2, 2017

Understanding Streetcar Costs, Funding, Operations and Partnerships

On a per-mile, capital cost basis, streetcar systems typically cost more than bus systems, but less than light rail (LRT). One of the biggest contributors to this difference is right-of-way: streetcars and buses typically run within an existing roadway and thus require minimal property acquisition...

July 19, 2017

Reimagining the Public Transportation Rider Experience for the Digital Age

Transit systems move millions of people each day, getting us to where we need to go, influencing our moods, and shaping our collective stories. But, faced with fluctuating ridership, uncertain budgets, and the sky-high expectations of a digital savvy customer — open app, get car — how can centuries-old transit systems keep up?

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