SEPTA Energy Savings Spotlight

December 3, 2014

LEDs on Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line and Norristown High Speed Line Cars

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are one of the most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies in the world today. Not only do LED bulbs last longer than traditional incandescent and florescent bulbs, they also use energy far more efficiently. Unlike incandescent and florescent bulbs, which release 90 percent of their energy as heat, LEDs waste little heat and therefore cost less to operate then a traditional bulb.

According to the US Department of Energy, widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. For SEPTA, not only does replacing current florescent lighting with LED's on subway and high speed line cars provide significant energy savings but there are labor and customer experience benefits as well.

SEPTA is in the process of replacing florescent light bulbs with LEDs on all 220 Market-Frankford Line cars. SEPTA estimates that it will spend approximately $82,000 annually to light all of the Market-Frankford Line cars after LED upgrades. Prior to the upgrades SEPTA paid approximately $125,000 annually to light the 220 cars. The upgrades will result in a total annual energy savings of $43,000 for the entire Market-Frankford Line fleet.

Future lighting upgrades will include the Norristown High Speed Line cars and the Broad Street Line cars. SEPTA estimates that it will spend $8,840 annually to light the Norristown High Speed Line car after lighting upgrades are made. That equates to roughly $8,840 of annual energy savings. The Broad Street Line cars will cut annual energy cost from lighting by almost half after lighting upgrades are made. Annual energy savings for the 125 cars is $52,000.

Currently SEPTA maintenance is responsible for changing light bulbs or replacing ballasts on subway and rail cars once the cars return to the maintenance facility at the end of every evening. This is an example of a labor cost that will be significantly reduced once all interior subway and rail car lighting is replaced with LEDs.

Additionally, switching to LEDs will significantly reduce the number of bulbs that SEPTA recycles. Since LEDs last longer than traditional florescent bulbs SEPTA will need to dispose of fewer bulbs annually significantly reducing the amount of waste the results from SEPTA operations.

Another soft cost that is significant but is difficult to calculate is the mechanical failures that are the result of the florescent lighting. Because the current florescent lighting gives off so much heat it can cause circuits located near the lights in the ceiling to burnout. These small mechanical failures need to be addressed before sending the cars out the following day.

Lastly, the high efficiency and directional nature of LEDs make them ideal for many industrial uses. They provide brighter, cleaner lighting in the subway and rail vehicles which improves the atmosphere of the rail cars for SEPTA customers.


ABOVE: New energy efficient LEDs on Market-Frankford car. Source: Plan Philly
ABOVE: Old inefficient florescent lights on Market-Frankford cars. Source: Plan Philly