Expanded SEPTA route aims to drive development in Hunting Park
The new route provides access up and down Hunting Park Avenue.
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The extension of a bus route might seem mundane at first, but officials hope that the route along Hunting Park Avenue will help continue the eight-year project to revitalize the area.
Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, SEPTA officials and community members officially opened the extended bus route 53 Friday morning at Fortaleza Rehabilitation and Fitness in Hunting Park. In effect since last month, the two-and-a-half mile extension connects Mount Airy in the northwest with Hunting Park, Feltonville and Juniata Park in the east.
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“We have brought to Hunting Park, what we call a ‘gateway,’ several hundred jobs over the last four or five years,” said Quiñones-Sánchez. “ Over time we have repurposed what was vacant industrial land and that has created some job opportunities for this zone. We believe this route will help us draw and populate whatever else we have vacant on the avenue.”
Jeffery Knueppel, SEPTA regional manager, said they anticipate 90,000 riders will use the new routing annually.
“Most importantly the community played an important role in this expansion by playing an important part of our annual service plan process and asking SEPTA to consider the proposal,” he said. “We listened.”
Phil Dawson is chairman of the SEPTA Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). He’s also a senior director at Esperanza. He called the route 53 expansion a perfect example of how the CAC can help develop projects with residents.
“The CAC is proud to be an entity which proposed service extensions in the last SEPTA annual service plan where Route 53 was identified as a suitable alternative for expanding service and have which helped the garnered the necessary community support.”
The residents who live in Hunting Park sent a message to SEPTA saying that they were here to stay, said Quiñones-Sánchez. In doing so, she believes they have secured something which will offer opportunities for business expansion.
“Mayor Kenney has highlighted the transformation of Hunting Park, it’s a project we’ve been working on for eight years, as an example of infrastructure investment and safety, and this route is an integral part of that,” she said. “It further amplifies what we want which is to have clean and safe walking and work spaces.”