Opinion: “SEPTA Metro” is a Step in the Right Direction

SEPTA Metro is SEPTA’s new wayfinding program, which aims to rebrand the SEPTA Rail Transit system. The plan is truly a step in the right direction, but it’s fundamentally flawed in execution. This article will show suggestions for the right execution to encourage new riders without alienating present riders.

Routes

The colors and symbols/labels introduced with SEPTA Metro are fine, but how they’re utilized could be confusing. I feel they should retain the service icons for the Broad Street, Norristown, Market-Frankford, and Trolley lines. This way it can be easy to identify the services at the stations.

Instead of noting numbers for variants of each line, and labeling the line based on its main trunk, it should all be individual letters. Local and express should be acknowledged as the same line, but any spur should have a different letter. In the example to the left, notice how the Broad Street Line retains the B letters, with different shapes to show express service. The Broad-Ridge Spur becomes the R, which shows that it is separate, and operates differently than the regular Broad Street Line. In the current plan, SEPTA intends on calling the Broad-Ridge Spur “B3” which would be confusing in the long term because it doesn’t solve the problem of confusing the Broad-Ridge spur with the Broad Street Line express.

As for the trolley Lines, ALL city trolley lines should be labeled based on their terminus. Route 10 can become route M as it ends at 63rd-Malvern (I would say L for Lancaster, but that perfectly fits with the Market-Frankford Line and I have no intention of changing that), Route 11 would become the W as it operates via Woodland Avenue, Route 13 should become route C for Chester Avenue, 15 can retain the G label, 34 should be route A for terminating in the Angora neighborhood, and Route 36 can become route E for Eastwick. The trolley icon can remain the same between the lines but still have a separate map and color for route 15 (G)

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Suburban Lines must be labeled differently as well. They cannot follow the same naming conventions as the city routes as they would be confusing. Naming the line and system after where it serves does not work. This means the D label for Delaware county and the M label for Montgomery must be changed as both lines serve Delaware County. Another reason why specifically, the M label should be changed is due to the fact that this new system is called “SEPTA Metro” so riders may specifically confuse the M with the name Metro. Instead, the name should reflect service to both Delaware County and Montgomery county. I would say call the system “Montco-Delco” Lines and then the individual lines get N for Norristown and K for King of Prussia. Routes 101 and 102 could be officially Suburban Trolleys and labeled S and T (Suburban and Trolley, instead of named Media/Sharon Hill). However, Route 102 would have to be the S line to spare confusion. D cannot be used, as D is already used for Direct bus service – this would only confuse riders.

Signage

Okay now for signage, this is more simple, I would suggest retaining the current “SEPTA Blue” used in current regional rail signage, and retaining the “SEPTA” logo in the before mentioned signs. This isn’t for a confusion aspect but more so for a more visually pleasing experience. I would also suggest taking cues from New York City by creating separate signs that hang over the platforms, instructing passengers which trains stop on each platform, but have only the route icon itself be colored.

Suggestions to the right show what I mean in this aspect. The signs as shown before were near perfect, just needed a bit more color to be visually pleasing. The signs like the ones that say eastbound/northbound should hang over the platforms.

It also would be wise to do away with station names that applied to just the cross streets. 8th-Market Station would better serve as being named after the Fashion District, as to be less confusing from the R train, which serves two stations along 8th Street. There are also two stations called Girard, Spring Garden, and Allegheny in the system. Perhaps consider names that reflect their location relative to where they are. Like Broad-Girard or Girard West.

Conclusion

I truly don’t have any other suggestions to improve the system. While it is still a long way before the system is understood, suggestions like these would help. What do you think? Let me know in the comments, or email me at dashgaming5155@gmail.com

About the author: DashTransit

I have been with Virtual Transportation Cente since it's conception as the "Dash Forums" back in 2008. Since then, I have been writing and doing YouTube side by side, focusing both on Transportation and Gaming. Most of my knowledge comes from SEPTA as I lived in Philadelphia for most of my life. As of 2021, I am on YouTube as DashTransit, Dash5155, and TheDashOfficial.

As for the name DashTransit itself, it actually stems from my YouTube channel.

DashTransit was originally called "njt5329" and the channel was just clips of buses. Mostly SEPTA and NJT. A Fujifilm Finepix was used in this era.

Starting in July 2011, the Canon SX130IS camera became the camera of the channel, bringing HD documentary-style videos much like my buddy (trainman1971) did for DVD for many years past. This is when the channel became known as "Transit Action Series"

In May 2012, the original Canon SX130IS retired, and then all videos were recorded off a mobile phone until eventually uploaded proved too difficult due to hardships IRL

Starting in 2017, I used a Canon SX200IS from Bastranz to reboot the channel that otherwise was dead for a whole year prior.

Between April 19th, 2019, and January 21st, 2021, all videos were recorded by a Canon SX710 HS camera. The channel was renamed DashTransit 4/19/19.

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