Renewal for Historic Bus Hub

September 13, 2012

33rd & Dauphin Loop a Centerpiece for Neighborhood Transformation

Since the early 20th century, the 33rd & Dauphin Bus Loop has served as a hub for the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of Philadelphia. On Monday, SEPTA broke ground on a project that will transform the facility for the century to come.

The $4.4 million project, funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) "Livability" initiative, will totally renovate the aging "bus barn" with state of the art, historically sensitive, and sustainable design features. They include:

  • New passenger amenities and retail space
  • Salvaged brick, repointed masonry, and repaired decorative cornice trim
  • A green roof and landscaped bio-retention basin to mitigate stormwater runoff
  • Accessibility improvements, such as raised-boarding areas and new curb cuts
  • Safety enhancements, such as a redesign of bus lanes to optimize traffic flow
  • An Art-in-Transit project

Construction will last 18 months, during which time buses will be temporarily relocated to the 33rd and Cecil B. Moore Loop (For more information about detours, click here).

The 33rd & Dauphin project's value is rooted less in design features than the grassroots community engagement process upon which it was developed. Prompted by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) Strawberry Mansion Community Plan, SEPTA began to work with the community on improvements to the facility. The plan highlighted 33rd & Dauphin as a "gateway" to the neighborhood and a conduit for economic revitalization. (To learn more about its importance to the community, watch this video.)

Rendering of New Bus Loop

The 33rd & Dauphin bus loop was in need of its own transformation. Despite its key role in SEPTA's network, serving 2,115 daily riders as the terminus for bus routes 7, 39 and 54, with stops on routes 32 and 61, the historic facility had fallen into a state of disrepair. Due to capital funding constraints, major maintenance work was planned but deferred, leading to structural deterioration. Originally designed for steel-wheel trolleys, its design was also ill-equipped for efficient rubber-tire bus service. The bus loop failed to meet SEPTA's standard for customer-friendly infrastructure design.

Existing Bus Loop

Ultimately, SEPTA's project was built on the community plan's recommendation to revitalize the transportation hub in a way that supports investments already on-the-ground in the neighborhood. Among them, the Friends Rehabilitation Program "Townhomes Project" and other vacant land reclamation efforts represented existing initiatives to transform blight into renewal.

And in fact, the ground swell of investment made SEPTA's project attractive to the FTA, whose livability initiative targets funding for projects exhibiting strong local coordination of resources to meet housing, transportation, and environmental needs. SEPTA's ability to demonstrate the presence of other investments in the immediately surrounding area gave its grant application a competitive advantage for funding (more on this topic in next week's Journal.)

Now, with the FTA grant in hand, the dream of transforming the gateway to Strawberry Mansion will become reality. In this way, the project reflects a key principle of SEPTA's Sustainability Program: to invest in assets that support the sustainable rebirth of communities across the region.