Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) on May 12 released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purchase of 130 trolley vehicles, with an option for up to 30 more.
The move—part of SEPTA’s Trolley Modernization program “to transform the nation’s largest trolley network into an accessible, fast and easy-to-use system—will replace the agency’s existing fleet, which have served riders since the 1980s.
“The new trolleys will be fully accessible to people with disabilities and have higher capacity to move more passengers,” SEPTA reported. “The new fleet will have low floors and ramps; wider pathways; audio and visual messaging systems to communicate upcoming stops and service changes; and designated open space for people with wheelchairs, walkers and strollers.” (See scope below.)
SEPTA’s eight trolley lines run for a total of 68 miles and connect communities in west Philadelphia, southwest Philadelphia, north Philadelphia, and Delaware County with the region’s two largest employment and healthcare centers, Center City and University City. (See map below.)
Funding for Trolley Modernization comes from the recently released proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Budget and 12-Year Program. According to that proposal (download below): “SEPTA is committing a total of $1.15 billion for Trolley Modernization. These capital funds allow SEPTA to advance early action trolley infrastructure design and construction for the $1.85 billion Trolley Modernization program. The new ADA accessible vehicles will require a complex and closely interrelated series of infrastructure upgrades in areas such as communications, signals, power, ADA stations, bridge improvements and maintenance facilities.” Budgeted is $770 million for trolley vehicles and $383.22 million for Trolley Modernization infrastructure. The trolley acquisition process, according to the proposal, is slated to take place between FY2022 and FY2032.
“SEPTA is committed to ensuring our trolleys meet the needs of riders today and tomorrow,” SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards said. “We are thrilled to start acquiring vehicles that open our trolley service to everyone.”