(PHILADELPHIA) — In partnership with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) is rolling out red paint on the Chestnut Street bus-only lanes between Broad Street and 2nd Streets in Center City Philadelphia. 

Roughly half of transit users, 148 million per year, rely on buses, and half of the residents in poverty do not have a car. Outlined in CONNECT: Philadelphia’s Strategic Transportation Plan, prioritizing transit is critical to ensuring all residents have access to opportunities and keep Philadelphians moving in a growing city. Bus lanes increase transit efficiency, reduce congestion, and help make the city’s transportation system more equitable.

“SEPTA’s success is Philadelphia’s success. Making buses faster and more reliable is a key goal for the Administration and OTIS, and we’re grateful to partner with PennDOT and SEPTA on this initiative,” said Director of Strategic Initiatives for OTIS Christopher Puchalsky.

Red paint has been shown to be an effective treatment for improving the compliance of bus lanes by making it very clear for drivers where a vehicle should be traveling. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), “red or terra cotta colored pavement highlights the prominence of the transit system, while at the same time visually enforcing dedicated transit space. Implementation of “red carpet” treatments in different contexts have reduced vehicle incursions by 30–50 percent, supporting on-time performance and reliability.” 

This project was made possible by the ongoing partnership between the City, SEPTA, and PennDOT, and the shared commitment to improving the speed and reliability of public transportation. 

“We value this opportunity to partner with the City and SEPTA on this pilot program,” said PennDOT Acting District 6 Executive Louis Belmonte. “We anticipate the red bus lane will help encourage the use of public transit, enhance safety and make for an overall better experience for all road users.”

“The outreach we have completed for Bus Revolution revealed that the biggest opportunities to strengthen the bus system are improving speed and reliability,” said SEPTA’s Chief of Planning Jody Holton. “SEPTA is excited to work with our partner agencies in the region on this significant initiative to improve visibility and safety on this corridor.”

This partnership will continue to work to implement transit priority improvements throughout Philadelphia, as identified in the Philadelphia Transit Plan: A Vision for 2045

Visuals: Photos of the Chestnut Street bus-only lane are available for media use. (Credit: City of Philadelphia)