SEPTA's board approved a new bus route Thursday to connect residential neighborhoods like Grays Ferry and Brewerytown with University City.

The rail agency's board voted unanimously to accept a plan for a Route 49 bus, which will also travel through Strawberry Mansion and Fairmount. The seven-mile route will begin operating on a trial basis in early 2019.

The route, SEPTA's first entirely new bus service in a decade, has been years in the making, and was designed to create direct bus access for residential communities with a significant number of workers who commute to University City or take Regional Rail from 30th Street Station. About 2,000 University City workers live within a quarter-mile of the route.

SEPTA is predicting the new route will attract 3,000 new bus riders on work days. The revenue from those travelers should cover 22 percent of the route's $4.3 million cost, the agency said.