SEPTA gathered with local elected officials and community members in Strawberry Mansion on Sept. 25 to celebrate the completion of reconstruction of the 33rd and Dauphin Bus Loop.
The 33rd and Dauphin Bus Loop Improvement Project, a $4 million initiative funded by a competitive grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), has resulted in a full make-over of the facility, which is a key part of SEPTA’s city bus operations.
The loop has significant historic value to the community, and the reconstruction has kept this legacy in-tact. The new loop incorporates original brick and masonry that has been recycled, the cherubs that have long marked the façade, and repaired and repainted decorative cornice trim – features that have made this loop unique and a neighborhood cornerstone.
"This facility has long been a landmark for SEPTA and the community," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. "SEPTA is proud of the loop’s transformation into a state-of-the-art transit hub that can serve as a centerpiece for neighborhood revitalization, while also providing customers with the modern amenities they deserve."
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA-02), who was instrumental in helping secure the FTA grant for the project, took part in the ribbon-cutting festivities.
“I am honored to help SEPTA celebrate the opening of the new 33rd and Dauphin Bus Loop," Fattah said. “The rehabilitation of the loop was a community-driven project that would not have been possible without the support and input of Strawberry Mansion residents. With a focus on livability and preservation, this project reflects the ongoing economic revitalization efforts in the area and maintains the legacy of this historic facility. The loop has served Philadelphians for the past 110 years and the improvements unveiled today will allow it to serve another generation of transit riders.”
The loop serves 2,115 riders daily as the start or terminus for Routes 7, 39 and 54, and stops for Routes 32 and 61. In addition to neighborhood residents and nearby businesses, it provides service to institutions such as the Dell East Music Center and Strawberry Mansion High School.
The reconstruction project was completed in just 12 months – several months ahead of schedule. It also came in under budget, and SEPTA has received permission from the FTA to use the remaining grant funds to renovate two additional bus loops. Those projects, at 23rd and Venango Streets and 35th Street and Allegheny Avenue, will begin next year.
The new 33rd and Dauphin facility has a number of stand-out features, including a “green roof” that utilizes plant modules and other materials. In addition to improving sustainability and helping create a more livable urban environment, the green roof reduces storm-water run-off, which helps prevent water from collecting at and around the loop. A new underground storm-water management system also enhances drainage.
The project has also made the facility fully accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with improvements such as raised boarding areas and new curb cuts. In addition, the reconstruction included safety enhancements for customers, pedestrians and motorists who use the roads surrounding the loop, such as the redesign of bus lanes to optimize traffic flow, and a new curbside bus berthing area. The new bus shed also utilizes three lanes, instead of four that were in place previously. This allowed for wider lanes to accommodate buses and enhance boarding access for customers.
Other amenities for customers include a new bus canopy, passenger shelters, benches, enhanced lighting, trash cans and signs. Bike racks have also been installed, as have new plumbing, heating and ventilation systems. The main building also includes space for a retail tenant.
The reconstructed loop features a one-of-a-kind Art in Transit project , “Arches of Resurgence”, by British-born artist Michael Morgan. The piece features brick arches that are designed to inspire hope and renewal, and link elements of nearby Fairmount Park with the community. The installation features a line from a song by legendary jazz musician John Coltrane, who lived in the neighborhood during some of the most celebrated years of his career.
Residents of the area surrounding the loop played a major role in helping SEPTA transform it to a facility that meets the needs of riders while also preserving its heritage.
“The partnership between SEPTA and the community was key to this process,” Casey said. “The input we received was critical in making this project come to fruition, and we appreciate the patience of neighbors during construction.”