SEPTA plans to divide Bus Route 23

SEPTA's busiest bus route is getting a makeover come November.

The Route 23 bus will become two distinct routes known as the 23 bus and the 45 bus. The change was one of several transit proposals approved by the SEPTA board.

"We decided to split it because the 23 had a really hard time sticking to its schedule," said Dan Nemiroff, senior operations planner at SEPTA.

The northern route, to be known as the 23 bus, will travel from Chestnut Hill toward Center City via Germantown Avenue and 12th Street. It will turn on Chestnut Street and use 11th Street on the way back.

The new 45 bus route, replacing the southern part of the current 23 route, will use 11th Street before turning on Noble Street (between Callowhill and Spring Garden streets) and will use 12th Street to continue southbound.

Route 23 gets the largest number of complaints of any bus line. Most often, people say that overcrowded buses pass right by them at stops.

Nemiroff, who started working on the project in 2013, said the new plan aims to address that complaint and problems with arrival times.

"Much of the route is of course on narrow streets, so it's subject to a lot of traffic delays," said Charlie Webb, chief officer of service planning.

Other fixes were tried out over the years, but nothing solved the issues long-term, he said. "We decided to do something a little more radical," Nemiroff said.

Several locations were considered as the point of divergence for the nearly 14-mile route.

"The biggest reason why Center City was chosen is because it will minimize the people transferring," Nemiroff said. Ridership data showed that most people are using the bus from both directions to enter the city.

If needed, passengers will be able to transfer between the two buses for free when the separate routes begin in November. Riders will be given a transfer slip specific to the route 23/45 configuration that will allow them to switch between the buses before a new digital-fare system is implemented.

SEPTA held public informational meetings about the changes in March.

"We were very pleased that the comments were generally positive," Webb said.

On Twitter: @JennLeft