THE board of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Septa) has approved a five-year strategic plan for fiscal years 2021 to 2026. 

The strategic plan, Septa Forward: A Vision for a Stronger Future, provides a framework for the transport authority’s post-Covid recovery and sets a vision for future growth. 

The plan is organised around three goals that work together to achieve the authority’s vision: 

  • develop a proactive organisation 
  • provide an intuitive experience, and 
  • deliver a seamless transit network. 

These programmes will enable Septa “to implement the strategies in this plan in a coordinated fashion that builds toward a long-term vision of a unified lifestyle transit network.” 

Septa says that the focus of the strategy will be to:  

  • unify its rail transit network with standard wayfinding, communications, services, and experiences 
  • develop a long-term master plan for regional rail networks which integrates with Septa’s other transport modes 
  • redesign its bus network for ease of use and improved connections, and 
  • accelerate various infrastructure projects aimed at improving availability and quality of services. 

Among these infrastructure projects is the 7.2km King of Prussia Rail extension to the Norristown line; the modernisation of its light rail network; and capacity expansion on regional rail and the Market-Frankford Line. Septa says these projects could accelerate economic growth in the region by up to 50%, as well as meet growing public demand and improve the quality of life for residents. 

However, Septa also notes that more investment is needed for the full benefits to be realised, highlighting that competing regions such as Chicago, New Jersey and Boston typically spend up to 70% more on transit. 

Septa will also develop its digital customer service platforms, including improvements to the availability of real-time transport information and the integration of trip planning and payment. 

The Strategic Plan incorporates input Septa has received from riders through customer surveys, at public meetings, and in day-to-day interactions, and was developed by teams comprised of staff from across the organisation. Implementation of the plan will build on those efforts for increasing engagement with both customers and employees. 

The Strategic Plan is launching with a new microsite that features an overview in an accessible, user-friendly format. There will be regular updates on key initiatives and performance indicators. 

“Septa was at the heart of the region’s growth over the past decade, and we stand ready to help create a more resilient, prosperous and equitable region,” says Septa general manager, Mr Leslie Richards. “Covid has hit us hard, and we face serious challenges from funding uncertainties and evolving ridership. This plan will help put us in the best possible position to provide service that connects residents to opportunities, leverages transit’s inherent sustainability, and accelerates inclusive growth.”