Planning for SEPTA's Largest Stormwater Project To Date

June 28, 2016

The Southern Depot, a bus maintenance facility, has a long history in Philadelphia. Most recently, it has become the site of multiple sustainability initiatives, from electric buses to energy retrofits. Additionally, Southern Depot will soon be the site of our largest green stormwater infrastructure project to date, adding to SEPTA's increased focus on green stormwater initiatives.

Located on 20th and Johnston Street, Southern Depot has been in operation since 1924. The Philadelphia Rapid Transit (PRT) Company owned and operated the trolley depot until 1968, when SEPTA took over operations. With trackless trolley operations ending in 1957, the Southern Depot currently services 220 buses daily, and has 29 bus routes operating out of it.

Because Southern Depot used to house trolleys, old trolley tracks have caused the pavement on the depot apron (where the buses enter and leave the depot) to buckle. Large areas of pavement will be replaced beginning in October 2016, providing an opportunity to install a detention basin underneath to capture stormwater. For more information on this stormwater retention project, along with the rest of the initiatives at Southern, check out the Case Study 005: Southern Depot.

Old trolley tracks break through asphalt at Southern Depot

Though this is the biggest green stormwater infrastructure project to date, it adds to a list of several initiatives SEPTA has taken on to address green stormwater in previous years. In 2013, the historic bus loop at 33rd and Dauphin became home to SEPTA's first green roof, which reduces stormwater runoff in addition to helping create a greener urban environment. This bus loop is another example of a facility-wide renovation which SEPTA used as an opportunity to complete a green stormwater project.

The project that will take place at Southern Depot will include a detention basin, similar to the one at 23rd and Venango. At the 23rd and Venango bus loop, renovations began in 2014, and included a detention basin that collects stormwater, allowing it to infiltrate into the ground, reducing the amount of water going into Philadelphia's sewer system. This again, was a facility-wide renovation which looked at sustainability from multiple angles, supporting several of SEPTA's sustainability goals.

The underground stormwater tank at 23rd and Venango bus loop is similar to the planned stormwater infrastructure at Southern Depot.


As the city has begun to increases its focus on green stormwater infrastructure, SEPTA will continue to do so as well.

In 2011, the Philadelphia Water Department adopted the Green City, Clean Waters plan to reduce stormwater pollution through the use of green infrastructure, and changed its fee breakdown to include a stormwater fee for impermeable surfaces, or surfaces which don't absorb water, sending it into the sewer system. Investing in green stormwater infrastructure not only makes environmental sense, but helps SEPTA to save money. SEPTA has plans to continue to support the city's stormwater goal in the future, and in creating its new generation of SEPTA Sustainability goals for the next five years, plans to quantify green stormwater infrastructure, and include it as one of the new goals. Look out for the next generation of these goals in our new plan, as well as updates on our final performance on our 2011 Sustainability Plan.