Diversity on wheels - that is SEPTA's Route 47 bus, a vital link between many of the city's established and emerging immigrant neighborhoods.
Running 10 miles from Olney Avenue in North Philadelphia south to Whitman Plaza, carrying 17,000 passengers a day, Route 47 can resemble a rolling United Nations, with U.S.-born riders, of course, but also Koreans, Russians, Brazilians, Indonesians, Haitians, Cambodians, Chinese, Laotians, Burmese, Thais, Mexicans, and Vietnamese among the foreign-born.
Tapping their shared experiences is "47 Stories," a multimedia project unveiled Tuesday, which presents a single 47 bus wrapped inside and out with images of the city and quotations from riders.
"We're a bit of every language and culture," Route 47 driver Jackie Foman said.
One of her observations during an interview with the project's artists, Shira Walinsky and Laura Deutch, is emblazoned on the back of the bus: "We Are All Migrating Together."
"Together, I think, is a key word these days," said City Councilman William Greenlee, who attended the ribbon cutting. "Without trying to get too political, we have to all be conscious of trying to work together. The diversity out there in the city of Philadelphia is our plus, not our minus."
Cosponsored by Mural Arts Philadelphia and the city's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, and supported by foundation grants, the bus cost $14,000 to outfit. Tricked out, it will ply its route through the start of the New Year.
"This work around 47 is really acknowledging the richness of the immigrants we have [and] Philadelphia standing strong around sanctuary city. . . . We feel that is a foundation for wellness," said David Jones, a deputy commissioner of behavioral health.
Images of some shops and landmarks on the route - a Cambodian restaurant, an African hair-braiding salon, a Mexican bakery - show "the places that are important" to the riders, according the artists. The excerpted quotations "reveal what interviewees love and value about our city."
In addition to a series of short recorded interviews, the artists asked the riders what songs they would put on a playlist for Route 47. The interviews and the playlist can be heard at tinyurl.com/47stories.
The project, Mural Arts executive director Jane Golden said, "helps us see diversity within our commonality. . . . We can share this space [and] empathize with each other. When we do, our city is stronger."