FOR THE last three months, three teams of graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania have been envisioning the future of the city in a studio called Philadelphia Futures 2040. Their challenge: create three blueprint plans for the city based on alternative visions of population, housing and economic activities throughout the region.

Next week, Mayor Nutter and select cabinet members will see what the city might look like 30 years from now. Team leaders for the project - Julie Thompson, Clint Randall and Jeff Knowles - provided "Rethinking Philadelphia" with an early looks at their visions.

The three visions include "Global City," "City of Neighborhoods" and "Green and Mobile City."

"Green and Mobile City" creates an intermodal transportation system. The redesigned transit map (at right) rethinks Regional Rail by running the rail system at higher frequencies, and connecting to a series of new and reopened stations at strategic locations throughout the city, such as 52nd and Lancaster Avenues. Bus Rapid Transit (dashed lines) connects the train lines to create a region that's more accessible to more people.

Their network encourages bike-sharing and transit, and smart signage that organizes the city based on parks, transit and "green streets."

In fact, transit is key to all these visions.

The "City of Neighborhoods" team would strengthen neighborhoods by connecting them to a nearby metro center via FRANK (Frequent Rapid Access NetworK).

And the "Global City" studio team redefines what a global city is with three goals: equity, education and entreprenuerial. Images from those projects appear earlier in the section.

The best part: Many of the students have vowed to stay in the city after graduation, and try to get their plans off the ground. *