SEPTA approves express bus for Roosevelt Boulevard

A SEPTA bus passes in front of City Hall near Market Street in Philadelphia on April 29, 2008. This image is an illustration for the economy story. .David Maialetti / Philadelphia Daily News.

SEPTA approved a long-awaited express route on Roosevelt Boulevard on Thursday, a first step in Philadelphia’s plan to improve safety on that busy, and dangerous, thruway.

“We are committed to finding short- and long-term solutions to improve the safety of all of those who travel on the boulevard,” said Michael Carroll, the city’s deputy managing director for transportation and infrastructure systems. “We believe this express bus service will be a vital step toward that goal.”

The Roosevelt Boulevard bus on the 10-mile route between Frankford Transportation Center and  Neshaminy Mall promises to be 30 percent faster than the 45 minutes it takes the existing Route 14 bus, SEPTA officials have said. It should attract 2,500 new riders each workday, many of them people now driving cars. Between 2011 and 2016, 50 people died on the road, 20 of them pedestrians.

New bus shelters are planned for stops at Cottman Avenue, Rhawn Street, Welsh Road, Grant Avenue, Red Lion Road, and the Neshaminy Interplex, officials said, the busiest stops on the 14 bus. The cost of the express line is $2 million, with a grant for $1.9 million paying for the new shelters.

During the monthly board meeting, the transportation authority’s board also approved a route change to the 132 bus to provide more service on Route 113 and Bensalem Pike in Bucks County.

An expansion to the 49 bus, which would run between Fairmount Park and Grays Ferry, will be considered at a meeting later this summer after SEPTA reviews feedback from the public and City Council members.

SEPTA’s board also granted easements to Sunoco Pipeline LP for a natural gas liquids pipeline along its rail routes. Sunoco is building the pipeline from Ohio to the company’s Marcus Hook facility along the Delaware River and sought four easements to cross SEPTA’s rights of way for transmission lines and unused rails in Aston Township, Chester Township, and Brookhaven Borough, in Delaware County, for two 16-inch pipelines and two 20-inch pipelines. Sunoco would pay $1.6 million for a 29-year, five-month lease, according to SEPTA’s meeting agenda.

The easements are part of a 350-mile, $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 line, now under construction in Western Pennsylvania and coming east after approvals from state regulators earlier this year. The first of two pipelines, it is slated for completion by September and will move natural gas liquids such as propane, ethane, and butane.

Those with concerns about the environmental impact of fracking and natural gas liquids spoke against the easements Thursday.

Ann Dixon, of West Philadelphia, described shrinking coastlines in Louisiana and temperatures so high in Phoenix that planes can’t take off, and she blamed the use of fossil fuels. Her remarks were punctuated with profanity, and Dixon said she cursed to make a point.

“The least we can do is when people can make these decisions that are going to negatively influence our lives is to make them a little bit uncomfortable,” said Dixon, a member of the environmental activism group 350 Philadelphia.

Members also expressed concern about leaks or an explosion of the flammable fluids.

The pipeline would cross 50 to 150 feet beneath SEPTA rights of way.

“We meet and exceed all regulations, and the safety of this project has already been evaluated and confirmed,” said Jeff Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco Pipeline.