SEPTA and city officials heralded the first year of the Boulevard Direct bus. They also announced a new stop at Southampton Road and a second express route.
After a successful first year for the Boulevard Direct bus route, SEPTA is planning on expanding the service, city officials said last week.
Transportation officials said a new stop for the express route, which connects Frankford Transportation Center and Neshaminy Mall via Roosevelt Boulevard, will be installed at Southampton Road. SEPTA is also in the early stages of planning a new express bus route connecting FTC and Wissahickon Transportation Center in Manayunk.
Boulevard Direct was launched last November by the city as a quicker alternative to the Route 14 bus, which has the same route but stops much more frequently.
Ridership on Boulevard Direct is up 13 percent since service began last year, the Mayor’s Office said. On average, 3,200 passengers ride the bus on weekdays, according to data provided by SEPTA.
That’s still less than half of 7,700 riders per day who travel using the Route 14 bus, which, unlike Boulevard Direct, run 24 hours a day. However, city and SEPTA representatives said the new service is “steady and growing” in a joint news release.
“In just one year, this new service — with its improved efficiency and simplified schedule — is a win-win for everybody,” said Jeffrey D. Knueppel, SEPTA’s general manager, in a statement. “It has attracted new riders, and has reduced travel time for many riders while helping with efforts to reduce congestion on Roosevelt Boulevard.”
During rush hour, the Boulevard Direct bus is 20 percent quicker than the Route 14, according to SEPTA. It is even quicker during non-peak hours.
After the bus leaves from FTC, it stops at Cottman Avenue, Rhawn Street, Welsh Road, Grant Avenue, Red Lion Road and the Neshaminy Interplex before arriving at the mall.
Soon, the Boulevard Direct will also be stopping at Southampton Road. SEPTA officials said they completed an analysis of the route and determined there was a gap between the Red Lion Road stop and the Neshaminy Interplex.
The new stop at Southampton Road will likely be installed in February, according to the news release.
A new express bus route in the style of the Boulevard Direct is also in the works. It will service the lower part of the Roosevelt Boulevard and connect FTC and Wissahickon Transportation Center.
A SEPTA spokesman told the Times that officials are still planning the route and that stop locations have not yet been finalized. However, it is expected the new route will include a stop at a station along the Broad Street Line.
SEPTA has not yet set a date for when the second Direct bus will be up and running.
The transportation agency is for the first time conducting a complete review of its bus system and is looking for ways to add express routes like Boulevard Direct in other parts of the city, according to the news release.
For more information on Boulevard Direct, including a complete schedule, visit www.septa.org ••