Let’s Reimagine Regional Rail!
About the Project
SEPTA Forward, our strategic plan, envisions Regional Rail as part of a lifestyle network of frequent, all-day, and all-week services that connects people to a range of destinations across the region. Reimagining Regional Rail will create a vision of what that looks like and will identify the infrastructure, equipment, operations, and policies needed to get there.
In Reimagining Regional Rail, we are asking what the Regional Rail network could be:
- How often should the trains run?
- What mix of express and local service should there be?
- What should stations be like?
- What should the trains be like?
- How should Regional Rail connect to rapid transit, trolleys, buses, and other rail service?
- How should fares be integrated with other transit services?
Increase and improve access to opportunity
Prioritize an intuitive rider experience through a seamless, welcoming system
Create a reliable, predictable Regional Rail System that people can trust
What is SEPTA Forward?
Our shared vision for a stronger future steers us through our challenges and guides SEPTA – and the region – forward. By looking at our services to create one unified, equitable network serving all types of trips, no matter where you are or what mode you choose. We anticipate changing needs and adapt services responsively to keep our region moving throughout the 21st century.
Reimagining Regional Rail is a key initiative of SEPTA Forward to revamp our services and better connect people across the region. We’re working closely with other major initiatives, including Bus Revolution, SEPTA’s bus network redesign, and the Wayfinding Master Plan to provide more intuitive experiences and a more seamless transit system. Learn more and find out how to get involved to help shape the future of transit in the Philadephia region.
State of the System
Learn more about the challenges and opportunities that exist today in our State of the System and Peer Systems Review report. Our findings will serve as a basis for future efforts of the Reimagining Regional Rail Master Plan.
This exciting work is going to take us about 18 months so that we make sure that we hear from everyone and consider all the possibilities. The process moves through three distinct phases, each headlined by feedback and engagement from the public:
We started by learning about best practices from around the world and, in Round 1 of outreach, better understanding what it is that you think works well (and maybe not so well) about Regional Rail today.
The team has now developed scenarios for the future, which are the core of the second round of outreach. Based on what we learn there, we will develop a vision and implementation plan and present that in Round 3.
What We Learned
In Fall 2021, we launched Reimagining Regional Rail with a combination of outreach and engagement activities. We wanted to talk to people about why they ride Regional Rail, why they choose not to, and what would improve the service.
Our overall findings included that:
- 60% of survey respondents currently ride Regional Rail at least occasionally, and said they know how to use the system well or fairly well
- Most of the respondents to our survey were white (81%) high-income earners (54% earned > $75,000/year) who have access to a car at home (79%)
- Survey respondents are relatively young - 57% under the age of 45 with 33% under the age of 35
- Respondents are largely residents of the area (92%) and/or work within it (70%)
We heard that frequency of service was the most important for the future of Regional Rail.
And heard that women find the stations more difficult to access than men do.
Are stations easy to access?
To better understand the needs of non-riders, we hosted 9 pop-up events on and off the Rail, speaking to over 2,000 people throughout the system over the course of two days.
These events were held intentionally in areas where there are underrepresented voices who have not had the opportunity to engage on Regional Rail. We used our early survey data to ensure our locations would be in areas we hadn’t heard from yet.
We also hosted a Virtual Public Meeting in Fall of 2021 and recently hosted a Transit Talk in April 2022 to talk about the Existing Conditions we found in the system.
During Phase 2, we developed three scenarios to improve the system based on what we heard in Phase 1 outreach and our analysis. We held a public meeting and a Transit Talk to share what we learned. There were gaps in who we were hearing from on our surveys and via outreach, so, in July, we held a series of Community Workshops to make sure we heard from these folks and talk about what they thought of the three scenarios. We held a Transit Talk to wrap up Phase 2.
Want to attend our next event? See what’s coming up!
We are thinking carefully about the implementation timeline in three phases.
Some of the changes we’re considering will require significant upgrades to track, construction of new stations, and buying a new fleet of trains. This will take time and money, and it can’t all be done at once. The plan will reflect that.
The long-term plan is a vision for what the system can be; every change to service and every infrastructure improvement should be a step towards that.
To get there, in the medium term, we can do infrastructure and fleet improvements in stages, allowing increased service one or two lines at a time. We will also identify schedule and fare changes that can be done quickly to make the system more useful for more people in the short term.