SEPTA launches free late-night transit app to increase access to jobs in the Philly burbs
The SEPTA Owl Link will operate between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m., seven days a week.
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On May 4, SEPTA announced the launch of its new free app, “SEPTA Owl Link,” which will begin on Monday, May 10.
The transit company is out to provide transport for those not holding down the typical 9 to 5 job.
“It is an on demand transit service that links SEPTA's late-night bus network with the late shift jobs in lower Bucks County,” Harley Cooper, the senior Operations Manager for SEPTA, said in a recent interview with AL DIA News.
The pilot will provide service between existing stops on bus routes 14, 56 and 66, and a growing number of local businesses that operate with late shifts.
The three bus routes were selected because they connect to different loops throughout the city.
SEPTA Owl Link service will operate between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m., seven days a week.
Customers will use their SEPTA Key Card for validation, but they won't have to pay for the services.
The hope is that these microbuses will be a better option for individuals who are heading to farther destinations. Not only is this app a better option, it's a safer and more cost effective way to travel.
“It does not have fixed schedules, it doesn't have fixed routes,” said Cooper. “We call it microtransit.”
The concept is, you use your mobile application and request service 30 minutes in advance, you can even do it up to seven days in advance.
“You use the app to request that service from one of those bus loops, to your last mile destination within the service zone,” said Cooper.
Right now, the app is focusing on Bristol and Bensalem because of the expanding job opportunities within those areas.
“There are many logistics and warehouse opportunities that provide different hours,” she said.
As government leaders began to ease restrictions on activities, more people are also heading back to work.
A majority of establishments looking for people to work are outside of the Philadelphia area, so SEPTA is trying to expand the access of their services so people can travel safely to their destinations.
“What we really are looking to do is make travel to jobs cost efficient,” said Cassandra West, manager of program eligibility and regulatory compliance at SEPTA. “Uber and Lyft costs a lot of money and depending on the demand, it can cost more, we want people to be able to afford to get to and from their jobs.”
The economical impact on citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic were drastic.
“Center City is not where a lot of jobs are at anymore, there are many jobs located in the outskirts of Philly,” said West.
The new opportunities outside of Philadelphia also have various different hours, so SEPTA is ensuring people that they will add more transportation options within late-night hours.
“This is part of our pandemic recovery, we want our riders back and in order to get them back, we have to get our riders going where they need to go,” said West.
For more information, check out the app's website.