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SEPTA’s new bus route feeding University City to debut Sunday, spring schedules to take effect

The route will be the first to offer direct connections to University City for neighborhoods on the opposite side of the Schuylkill River.

SEPTA is starting its first new bus route in a decade. It will serve University City and nearby neighborhoods.
SEPTA is starting its first new bus route in a decade. It will serve University City and nearby neighborhoods.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

SEPTA’s first entirely new bus route in a decade will start carrying passengers Sunday.

The bus will connect Grays Ferry, Brewerytown, and Strawberry Mansion with University City. Stops will include the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Eastern State Penitentiary.

The Route 49 bus will link communities on the eastern side of the Schuylkill with 30th Street Station and University City, with service every 15 minutes during peak hours. Each workday, service will begin about 5 a.m. at either 33rd and Dauphin Streets or 29th Street and Snyder Avenue, the endpoints of the route. The last buses each day will travel between midnight and 1 a.m. Weekend service will run every 20 minutes during midday hours, and every half-hour in the mornings and evenings.

Four years have passed since the process of creating the route began. SEPTA went through several versions of the route, shifting plans in response to feedback from the communities it will serve.

One impetus for creating the line was the growth of jobs in University City, officials have said. About 2,000 University City workers live within a quarter-mile of the route, SEPTA has said, but until now, there has been no direct public transit service between that employment hub and the neighborhoods the Route 49 bus will serve.

SEPTA is predicting the new route will attract 3,000 new bus riders on workdays. The route cost about $4.3 million. About 22 percent of that will be covered by fare revenue.

While the launch of SEPTA’s newest bus is the biggest change coming this weekend, SEPTA noted an adjusted route change along its Route 104 bus near West Chester University that will start Monday. A new stop has also been added along the Boulevard Direct, which runs along Roosevelt Boulevard between the Frankford Transportation Center and Neshaminy Mall, beginning Sunday.

Also beginning Sunday, SEPTA’s spring schedule becomes effective for the majority of the transit agency’s buses, trolleys, and subway lines, and the Norristown High Speed Line. It could mean a slight change to Monday’s morning and evening commutes.

Schedules for more than 80 buses, as well as the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines, can be found on SEPTA’s website.

Additionally, passengers heading into Center City from the Lansdale/Doylestown Regional Rail Line’s Penllyn, Ambler, Fort Washington, Oreland, and North Hills stops will have to board from the outbound platform Sunday because of track work. An adjusted Sunday schedule will be in effect.

Heading to the 76ers and Flyers games Saturday? SEPTA will deploy additional trains along the Broad Street Line to accommodate fans.

Staff writer Patricia Madej contributed to this article.