Philadelphia Navy Yard to drop SEPTA route

A mixed-use development site figures to increase mass transit
use with a pair of shuttle options.

By Joseph Myers

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted Nov. 29, 2012

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After eight years of conveying passengers to and from The Philadelphia Navy Yard, SEPTA’s Route 71 will end tomorrow.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

As it leaves him only one minute from his job at McKean Defense Group, 3 Crescent Drive, David Davis considers SEPTA’s Route 71 a convenience. 

The resident of the 2800 block of South Camac Street and nearly 10,000 other Philadelphia Navy Yard-situated workers will gain an opportunity to have their ease augmented beginning Monday, as the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., 4747 S. Broad St., the 54-year-old body responsible for the 1,200-acre territory’s planning and development, will replace the eight-year-old bus with a loop shuttle. The new ride will couple with a Center City-based express service to facilitate employees’ and visitors’ treks to the urban campus.

“We feel these decisions will improve mass transit opportunities,” Will Agate, the corporation’s vice president, said Monday. “We’re hoping to establish the best service possible and believe this combination of moves will produce that.”

He and his peers, however, are not abandoning SEPTA, whose Route 17 makes weekend Navy Yard stops and whose Route 68 ventures to Tasty Baking Co., 3 Crescent Drive. Rather, they are aiming to address the 71’s low ridership figures and allow the transit operator to allocate buses to busier lines. 

Five percent of Navy Yard employees reach their sites via public transportation, according to a February corporation survey, with Agate noting the replacement option and the express, set mainly to benefit GlaxoSmithKline workers who will begin moving from Center City to 5 Crescent Drive next month, will likely triple that mark.

“To some degree this is experimental, but with Glaxo’s impending move, this is a great time to try it,” Agate, who revealed the Navy Yard’s operating expenses will grant passengers free rides, said. 

The present offering dates back to 2004, when the City, SEPTA and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., as part of its master plan, developed it to convey Navy Yard personnel. It begins at AT&T Station, Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, and courses through the campus using two paths, aiding an average of 307 daily commuters, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said. That places it 83rd out of 120 routes, and though its $77,000 revenue lags way behind its $243,000 operating cost, it has not become a liability for his employer, whom he said hopes riders will call upon in connecting with either the shuttle or the express.

“Anything that will increase transit use has our support,” Busch said.

The current model begins services at 5:42 a.m., with roughly 20-minute increments for its 17 morning and 17 afternoon and evening trips, the last terminating at AT&T Station at 6:50 p.m.. Next week’s substitute slightly will alter those periods, allowing for 19 and 21 such journeys, respectively. The reduced waits could make a difference for Davis and his fellow travelers by diminishing the likelihood of tardiness, with the complimentary jaunts certain to prove popular, too.

“Although I can walk from AT&T Station to The Navy Yard, the shuttle will be great during inclement weather conditions and also if you are just trying to get into work more quickly,” Davis said. “I feel it will increase ridership because the shuttle is free and someone will not have to pay an extra fare or waste an extra token to ride it.”

Like its predecessor, The Navy Yard Loop will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and contain bicycle racks. Wi-Fi capabilities will offer novelty to the maximum ridership of 40 patrons, who may elect to use a mobile phone application to alert them of the location of the loop. The vehicle will essentially follow the 71’s trail but will add Langley Avenue as a destination, endowing even more workers with a potential commute solution. Agate el al notified them of the shuttle’s implementation two weeks ago, having discussed its feasibility at Sept. 21’s onsite Transit Connections Forum overseen by state Sen. Larry Farnese.

The meeting drew many of the employers from the campus’ 120 businesses and transportation agency heads to plot the expanse’s transit identity. They agreed on the shuttle and the express as solutions but not certainties.

“We’ll take another survey in the spring to observe ridership patterns and gauge satisfaction,” Agate said.

He will hope to hear great responses from Glaxo employees. Looking to strengthen its 172-year presence in Philadelphia, their company announced its relocation to the mixed-use office, research and industrial environment in February ’11. The arrival of 1,350 employees from two Center City offices by the end of next year’s first quarter will push the worker population beyond 10,000 and further the corporation’s mission to make the campus a regional hub. The fresh faces will reach their new four-story, 205,000-square-foot building via The Navy Yard Center City Express. Officials had considered three locations as its origin, choosing 10th Street between Market and Filbert streets because of its proximity to the widely used Market East Station, which connects with numerous bus and rail lines.

While the shuttle will run all day, the express, which will have the same amenities, will make 14 morning peak time runs, beginning at 6:15 a.m. and ending at 10:32 a.m., and 15 afternoon and evening peak excursions, starting at 2:30 p.m. and lasting through 7:25 p.m. Though it will cover less Navy Yard territory than the shuttle, it will be nonetheless crucial to working to enhance what Agate, who is overseeing a marketing campaign that will encourage employees to use the additions, sees as “the economic benefit of The Navy Yard.”

“I will definitely be using the shuttle to get to my job most of the time,” Davis said.

The McKean hire one day might be able to take the Broad Street Line to complete his duties, as the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the corporation, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and SEPTA applied for a Federal Transit Authority grant to further plans to extend the underground option 1.5 miles into The Navy Yard. The alteration could cost $370 million, according to the corporation’s ’09 The Broad Street Line Extension Feasibility Study, and the forum attendees discussed possible funding sources. Even if the project proves too costly, Davis will enjoy the settled offerings.

“I’m sure these additions will increase ridership by more than 10 percent because of the convenience and the more-than-flexible new schedules,” he said. “Riders will always be able to reach the shuttle and express throughout the day so they can arrive at and from work safely and easily.”


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1. Virginia CEe said... on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:48AM

“That corrupt demon Clinton closed the Navy Yard to save money. We should have impeached him and saved the country his salary. Now we have his horrible corrupt wife to deal with now. I think they both are disgusting and shouldn't be in government. They are corrupt liars and they should be in prison!”

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2. JP said... on Nov 30, 2012 at 02:10PM

“Virginia, shame on you; didn't your mother bring you up better than that? Don't be a "hater"”

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3. JP said... on Nov 30, 2012 at 02:11PM

“Virginia, shame on you; didn't your mother bring you up better than that? Don't be a "hater"”

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4. Sick Transit said... on Dec 3, 2012 at 11:15PM

“Virginia: Turn off Fox. Remove your tinfoil hat and take your meds. The story is about bus transportation, not your hatred of the Democratic Party. (FWIW, Obama won convincingly. Get over it.)”


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