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A 3D rendering of a new SEPTA trolley planned to be implemented by 2027.
Photo courtesy of SEPTA.

SEPTA awards contract for new trolleys

As a part of their 12-year plan to renovate their current system, SEPTA has begun the process of replacing the existing, older trolleys.

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On Feb. 23, SEPTA announced that Alstom Transportation Inc. was awarded a contract for the purchase of more modern, fully ADA-compliant trolley vehicles to replace SEPTA's current, older fleet of trolleys.

The current fleet has been serving riders since the early 1980s.

These new trolleys will be notably different from the current design. They will be longer, have a higher capacity for passengers, lower floors and ramps, wider pathways, both audio and visual messaging systems to signal new stops or service changes, and a designated open space for mobility tools like bicycles, wheelchairs, and strollers.

Trolley modernization is a central element to SEPTA Forward — SEPTA's Strategic plan — as they seek to create a "lifestyle transit network," one that will be able to be used for any kind of travel rather than just the traditional commute to work.

“Trolley Modernization poses economic benefits for both riders and the region at large,” said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr.

“This project will strengthen existing connections by improving transit services that link workers to jobs, students to schools, and diverse communities to each other – supporting local businesses and an affordable cost-of-living for everyone,” he continued.

Currently, SEPTA has eight trolley lines running for 67 miles, connecting West, Southwest, and North Philadelphia, along with Delaware County, and the two largest employment and healthcare centers in the region: Center City and University City.

“SEPTA is committed to ensuring our trolleys meet the needs of all riders – people with disabilities, seniors, families with small children, new users, and anyone who needs a little more help to get where they are going,” said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards.

Currently, SEPTA is still seeking to raise money in competitive grants, state, and local funding, totalling $800 million to afford their improvements.

“We are doing everything we can to move this project forward, but we need to secure new options for funding to leverage the once-in-a-generation infusion of federal dollars,” Richards continued.

Under this new contract, SEPTA will receive at least 130 trolleys, having the option to order up to an additional 30 more, with the total contract amount for the base order being $714,239,455.

These new trolleys are expected to begin delivery to SEPTA by 2027, with the new fleet arriving fully by 2030.

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