Existing SEPTA bus service in Bucks County is in peril as the agency looks to eliminate redundancy, improve transportation logistics and cut costs via a new initiative that replaces fixed routes with on-demand pickups.
SEPTA unveiled details of the plan during a public “Community Conversation” online Monday night. There will be major route changes and the outright elimination of at least one bus route that services Bucks County, officials said. In the place of those routes, SEPTA is proposing an on-demand, microtransit approach.
Related:SEPTA considers on-demand microtransit system in Bucks County that could replace some bus routes
In addition to previously disclosed route changes, SEPTA is also proposing to disconnect the No. 1 bus which services Parx Casino in Bensalem, and reinvest those resources elsewhere.
SEPTA bus route changes in Bucks County
Bus routes 22 and 50 will have their routes individually consolidated, while bus routes 55 and 58 will undergo an alignment, streamlining and simplification process, officials said. Bus Route 127, which connects the Trenton Transit Center to Oxford Valley Mall in Middletown, will be extended to reach Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem under SEPTA’s plan.
Bus routes 128, 129 and 130 will all undergo consolidations and route splits. All three lines will be consolidated and serviced by proposed bus route number 542, which will connect Neshaminy Mall to the Torresdale Station in Philadelphia.
Regarding the route splits, route 128 will become route 681 and will service the Lower Bucks Microtransit Zone. Route 129 will become route 604, which will connect the Bristol Railroad Station to the City Line Loop.
And lastly, route 130’s split will create route 601 which will connect Bucks County Community College in Newtown to Neshaminy Mall.
Lower and Central Bucks County will be split into microtransit zones 681, 682. These zones will replace traditional bus services to Bensalem, Croydon, Levittown and Telford and other locations throughout the county.
“We had to do something to get ridership back up,” said moderator Dan Nemiroff, noting that post-pandemic ridership has fell off between 30% to 40%. “This project has three goals. To put the rider first, increase access to opportunity and build trust with reliable service.”
During the online presentation, viewers seemed concern with access to suburban malls under the proposal, and SEPTA officials said they were going to eventually move away from using such malls as transportation centers or hubs.
For subscribers:Could Bucks County commuters see improved SEPTA service? Agency says it’s too soon to tell
How does SEPTA on-demand microtransit work?
According to SEPTA, the microtransit strategy is a flexible, on-demand transit service which allows riders to request a trip when they want to travel and be picked up within a specified wait time, usually less than 30 minutes, after they request their trip. This microtransit approach also allows for front-door pickup or at the closest/safest intersection.
If a passenger is within a microtransit zone, instead of waiting for a scheduled bus, SEPTA wants that individual to use a mobile app or call SEPTA to schedule a ride. A rider can travel anywhere within a zone or can use microtransit to connect to a bus stop or to a transportation center, officials said.
The fare will be identical to the standard fare. However, trips must begin and terminate in the same zone.
Public transportation customers in Bucks County may see a streamlined service, but this initiative, if it goes through, will mean that people who were long accustomed to a set bus route and schedule will have to embrace a whole new system.
SEPTA officials reiterated that the plan is just a proposals at this time, and no implementation will occur before 2024. In the meantime, SEPTA is soliciting feedback from its readers and residents on its Bus Revolution website.
At a glance
Here is a summary of the proposed changes:
Route 127 –― This route is being replace (in part) by proposed Route 602 that originates at Neshaminy Mall and travels via Old Lincoln Road, Pine Road, Maple Avenue, through Oxford Valley Mall and then via Lincoln Highway into Trenton. Service has been discontinued on the jog the route does through Levittown. This would be a 30 Max route, meaning it would run at least every 30 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., seven days a week.
Route 128 –― A portion of this route between Parx Casino and Neshaminy Mall will be served via proposed Route 542 but the rest of the routing is proposed to become part of one of two Microtransit zones proposed for this area. This is a new on-demand type of service that will function like Uber/Lyft for transit and take people to any points within a designated zone.
Route 129 –― Part of this route will be covered by proposed Route 604 between City Loop and Bristol Borough. Much of the rest of the routing is proposed to become part of one of the two Microtransit zones proposed for this area. This is a new on-demand type of service that will function like Uber/Lyft for transit and take people to any points within a designated zone.