About SEPTA’s Trolley Modernization Project
Trolley Modernization is a once in a generation opportunity to transform the nation’s largest trolley network, delivering benefits across the region. Trolley Modernization delivers equity, by improving transit access in communities of color; jobs, by catalyzing over 38,000 permanent jobs; improved air quality, by lowering pollution and keeping more cars off the road; and community, by linking more communities together.
All existing trolley routes are included in Trolley Modernization, including the Center City tunnel, subway surface lines, Route 15, and Media-Sharon Hill Lines. Under SEPTA’s Wayfinding Master Plan the existing trolley routes are rebranded making navigating the system easier: the “T Lines” (T1 through T5) is today’s Routes 10, 34, 13, 11, and 36; the “D Line” is today’s Routes 101 and 102; and the “G Line” is today’s Route 15.
Trolley Modernization is a complex, multi-year project that will be completed in phases through 2030 to limit disruptions to service. With planning nearing completion, design is currently underway and construction activities will occur in phases between 2024 through 2030. Construction to modernize the trolley lines will begin in the following order, although work will overlap to some extent: the T Lines (trolley tunnel, today’s Routes 10, 11, 13, 34, and 36), the D Lines (today’s Routes 101 and 102), and the G Line (today’s Route 15). SEPTA expects all of the new trolley vehicles to be in service on all the modernized trolley lines by 2031, with some lines fully operational years before that. Work has also already started to procure new trolleys, to be followed by facility improvements that will allow SEPTA to receive the new fleet of trolleys. Accessible stations will be constructed before the new fleet is in service along routes.
Trolley Modernization is focused on modernizing the existing eighth trolley lines with potential end-of-line extensions. New and improved end-of-line facilities and service extensions must accommodate the new, longer vehicles, improved passenger and operator facilities, and ADA compliant platforms, as well as bring better connectivity to destinations and other SEPTA services. Restoration of suspended trolley services or creation of new trolley lines is not currently a part of the program.
Funding for the Trolley Modernization project will potentially come from a wide variety of sources, including SEPTA’s capital budget and federal, state, and local grants.
Trolley Service and Operations
The project will be rolled out in phases to minimize disruption to lines; however, trolley services will be down at times while work is occurring. SEPTA will provide bus service as an alternative when routes are not in service. While there may be some changes during construction, the outcome of the project will make commutes faster, easier, and more accessible.
To make the system accessible, we need both accessible vehicles and stations. Today’s trolleys have internal steps and high floors. Some underground stations do not currently have elevators. New trolleys will not have steps to board, and stations will all be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant with ramps and elevators as necessary.
Media will need to be double tracked for the new, fully-accessible, on-street stations to be constructed. Media will look and operate much like sections of the T Lines (city routes), such as along Lansdowne and Chester Avenues. The following images display cross-sections of State Street’s current configuration and future double tracking with stations. SEPTA has worked closely with Media Borough to study and confirm that double tracking and accessible curb extension stations will work on State Street without impacting or changing the existing curb line or on-street parking except at station locations. SEPTA will continue to work closely with Media on station locations, construction impacts, and end-of-line improvements as the program advances.
Trolley Modernization includes the addition of elevators and near level platforms at stops, and vehicle ramps with a button to allow for boarding without operator assistance. Wheelchair users can also strap their wheelchairs in on the trolley autonomously and will not require operator assistance. See an example from the Utah Transit Authority on how the TRAX light rail system’s wheelchair-accessible ramps work. This is how wheelchair ramp access will work with our new vehicles and stations.
Trolley Cars, Stations, and Stops
We are in the process of gathering public input to understand what attributes are most important and to incorporate those priorities into station design and construction. On-street stations will be more visible than current stations and will be fully accessible and ADA-compliant.
In order to create stations that are safer and more visible, and to meet the goal of a faster ride, stops will be consolidated based on a variety of factors, including usage and connections with other SEPTA services. Proposed end-of-line extensions will make it easier to connect to other modes of transit.
Building a Lifestyle Transit Network
As part of our 12-year capital investment program, we’re making stations accessible, acquiring new vehicles, investing in communications, and upgrading services for our buses, Metro, and rail to deliver on our vision of easy to use, frequent, and integrated transit.