SEPTA Forward: Bus Revolution


Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

Project Summary:

Collaborating and engaging with SEPTA bus riders

Connect the Dots is spearheading engagement for SEPTA’s Comprehensive Bus Network Redesign: a complete reimagination of the Philadelphia region’s bus network. This three year process led by Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates will holistically reorient bus service towards the evolving needs of the region’s riders. The project has the potential to engage with millions of people and affect their day-to-day lives. As community engagement project manager, Connect the Dots is facilitating coordination between transportation firms, local governments, community based organizations, community members, and various other stakeholders. Alongside engagement team partners, CtD is co-creating a regional engagement strategy that uses a variety of outreach and engagement tactics to gather input from as many SEPTA bus riders as possible. From stakeholder interviews and focus groups to fact sheets and text alerts, some of this project’s additional outreach and engagement tactics include:

Information Hubs (virtual and physical): Community-based project hubs will be the physical counterparts to the project website, and will be scheduled and staffed throughout key project phases. Based in neighborhoods, the hubs will allow us to share information such as meeting flyers, fact sheets, and survey forms in a way that bridges the “digital divide” and meets people where they are.

Community Ambassador program: Community members can act as “ambassadors” for the project and help spread the word in their neighborhoods about ways to stay updated on and get involved in the project. This may include attendance at community events or meetings, and distributing materials such as meeting flyers, fact sheets, and surveys through their existing neighborhood contacts.

“Project Bus” / Pop Ups: Project Bus will be a branded bus, developed for the project, that can be brought to multiple community events at key junctures. The bus will essentially act as an anchor for a “pop-up” about the project at already-scheduled community events. It will provide key information directly to the public and can incorporate key insight-gathering tactics like surveys as well as interactive game-based engagement activities.

“Transit Talk” Webinars: Even as public-gathering restrictions ease, virtual meetings will continue to play a useful role in conveniently reaching many people in their homes. During each phase, or as appropriate, a recorded video presentation can be streamed live, or shared pre-recorded, to provide context and educational content as well as next steps. As the project progresses, a library of these webinars can be recorded and updated as an accessible resource for those looking to learn more about the project on-demand, at any time.

Process (so far):

  • Co-create actionable plans focused on engaging with particular stakeholders (e.g. community-based organizations, elected officials)
  • Establish a variety of roles / capacities for groups and individuals to partner on the project given their time and resources
  • Plan a mix of in-person and remote engagement tactics for gaining insights from community members regardless of internet access
  • Series of communication campaigns and outreach materials geared at understanding the project and potential scenarios