SEPTA returns to 100% capacity, marks renovation to 5th Street Station

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- SEPTA held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday for one of its renovated stations as it returns to 100% capacity on its vehicles.

The 5th Street Independence Hall Station features $20 million worth of upgrades and several murals.

Passengers have already been using the redesigned station for months, but construction was ongoing, with many delays during the pandemic.

The ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official completion of the renovation process.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and many local leaders attended the ceremony at Independence Mall.

"It's beautiful down there and what's really nice about the mural is that it's not just the white guys down there on the walls, the people that we're taught about in grade school and high school. It includes others who made an impact on the city," said Kenney.

SEPTA officials anticipated tourists using the station and want it to be an educational tool that is as welcoming as possible.

SEPTA is also lifting all passenger capacity limits that were put into place at the start of the pandemic.

This decision to increase the number of riders is based on COVID-19 cases falling and vaccination rates rising.

SEPTA officials say they have closely examined ventilation systems on vehicles and have upgraded some air filters.

"We also want to ensure everybody that our air refreshes every two to three minutes. That's a lot safer than a lot of building and a lot of restaurants," said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie Richards.

Richards said that SEPTA will begin increasing the number of routes in July as they anticipate more riders as nearly all pandemic restrictions are lifted in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

"Public transit is what people use the most and people were concerned about their health, didn't want to be out and now things are loosening up. Case counts are down, infection rates are way down and we can start getting out there safely again," Kenny said.

SEPTA customers and employees must still wear a mask until further notice.

Richards said the CDC is requiring every public transit system across the country to keep those guidelines in place.

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