Building it Better Together: SEPTA giving Center City buses a head start to help with traffic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A little bit of time that is designed to make a big difference. Three seconds that starts with a special traffic signal adjacent to the others at the intersection of 15th and Market streets in Center City.

"It's commonly referred to as a queue jump and what it does it gives our bus operators a chance to get in front of traffic," said SEPTA Assistant General Manager of Operations, Scott Sauer.

Forget red, yellow, and green. The new signal is smaller and only has white, horizontal and vertical bars. SEPTA drivers are now being trained to stop when the white bar is horizontal and to go when it's vertical.

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The new signal is designed to give buses a jump start of three seconds. The goal is to have the busses pull ahead before other traffic.

"The traffic engineers in the city determined that three seconds is enough," said Sauer.

The signal has gone up in partnership with the Philadelphia Streets Department.

"Even though it's a short period of time, when we have a lot of volume at an intersection like here at 15th and Market, it really helps transit get through," said Gus Scheerbaum, director of strategic initiative for the department.

But some residents are skeptical of the signal's effectiveness.

"It works, but it don't work cause the cars trying to beat them," said one SEPTA passenger.

Others, are more optimistic.

"I think it is beneficial because it will allow the bus to turn prior to all the traffic" said SEPTA passenger Kathy Fulton.

Of course, the effectiveness of the signal is situational assuming the bus isn't illegally boxed in by traffic or cars are parked in the bus lane.

Depending on the feedback and rollout of the signal its current intersection, more could soon be rolled out in other parts of the city.
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