SEPTA Metro: New plan to rename trolleys, subways and elevated rail lines

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — SEPTA has publicly unveiled a plan to rename its rail lines to make them easier to navigate. The proposal renames its trolleys, subways and elevated trains the “SEPTA Metro.”

The proposed wayfinding system gives SEPTA’s rail transit lines single-letter names with color-coded sign.

The Broad Street Line would become the “B” Line. The Market-Frankford Line, not surprisingly, would be named the “L” Line.

“The term ‘El’ is by far the most common term for the Market-Frankford Line, so one of our recommendations is to start using the letter 'L' as an abbreviation for that line,” said Lex Powers, SEPTA’s manager of strategic planning.

“The reason for this is so we can build off of current name recognition. So we’re not going to rename them the 1, the 2, the 3, for example. But it is something that people will find recognizable.”

The Norristown High Speed line would simply become the “M” line, for Montgomery. The Media-Sharon Hill Lines would be called the “D” line, for Delco.

The new proposed SEPTA line names. Photo credit SEPTA

“The term ‘Metro’ was chosen tentatively because it can be applied to services that are above ground, below ground. It can be applied to light rail or heavy rail,” Powers said.

“Regional rail is not included in Metro and that speaks to one of the problems that we’re trying to solve,” Powers told KYW Newsradio.

“There really isn’t a strong awareness for the other rail network that we have besides regional rail.”

Powers says the new names are designed for riders, not SEPTA employees.

“In the colloquial sense, the term ‘high speed rail’ does not refer to what the Norristown High Speed Line is,” Powers said. “We would like to start using terms that are more recognizable to the general public, not transit experts.”

“Spur” is a technical transit term, Powers said, and riders of the Broad-Ridge Spur often mistakenly believed “spur” referred to express trains. He said the term “spur” often doesn’t translate directly into other languages.

The new scheme was also designed to simplify navigation for people who don’t speak English.

The recommendations for new names and signs came after thousands of interviews and 18 months of surveys and research, Powers explained.

“We also partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to actually shadow people going through the system and record their experiences getting lost with our signage,” Powers said.

SEPTA has posted the entire proposal on its website, and it’s looking for input from the public during a two-month comment period.​

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