15 Trolley: Improvements, Plans, Route Changes And, Yes, Delays

Route 15 trolley Girard Ave at Columbia Ave

Photo: Mike Szilagyi

SEPTA’s two month long suspension of trolley service on Route 15 Girard Avenue has now grown to five or six months. The revised schedule has diesel buses providing Route 15 service until mid-April. The good news is that in the interim extensive improvements are being made to the trolley tracks.

$1.2 million is being invested in rail renewal at several locations along the 8-mile long route, including on the Girard Avenue Bridge over the Schuylkill River.

When the streamliners do return to service in April, it will be on a shortened Route 15. Due to PennDOT’s planned reconstruction of I-95, and related relocation of Richmond Street, trolleys will operate only as far east as the intersection of Girard Avenue and Frankford Avenue. A new loop has been constructed at Frankford Avenue and Delaware Avenue, opposite Sugar House Casino, to turn the trolleys around. Until PennDOT’s I-95/Richmond Street projects are complete–in an estimated two to four years–diesel buses will provide transit service on East Girard Avenue and Richmond Street. Once that’s done, trolleys will once again run the entire length of Route 15, to Westmoreland Loop (just north of Allegheny Avenue on Richmond Street).

Built in 1948, Girard Avenue’s fleet of eighteen streamliners isn’t destined to run forever. When the cars were rebuilt in 2003, specifications called for a fifteen-year life extension. SEPTA’s long-range plan is to procure a large new fleet of modern low-floor streetcars that will replace both the Girard Avenue cars and the thirty-year old railcars that now operate on the subway-surface lines in West and Southwest Philly.

About the author

Mike Szilagyi was born in the Logan neighborhood of Philadelphia, and raised in both Logan and what was the far edge of suburbia near Valley Forge. He found himself deeply intrigued by both the built landscape and by the natural “lay of the land.” Where things really get interesting is the fluid, intricate, multi-layered interface between the two.

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  1. Anyone know if the bus replacement on Girard/Richmond will be a shuttle, or if the 73 bus is being extended southward?

    • The replacement bus will be a shuttle. It will run from the corner of Girard Avenue & Front Street, to Westmoreland Loop (the trolley loop on Richmond Street a block north of Allegheny Avenue).

    • The orignal plan was to extend the 73, but they decided against that as the Route 15 will need Shuttles on a very fine schedule and the 73 goes too far out to be there.


  1. Absolutely nuts- Girard getting torn up again...

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