The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary
United States Department of Transportation
Dear Secretary Chao:
On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, representing roughly 600,000 employees from thousands of member companies and organizations in northern Delaware, southern New Jersey, and southeastern Pennsylvania, I write to offer my enthusiastic support for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) application for funding through the U. S. Department of Transportation’s FY 2017 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. TIGER funding will allow SEPTA to transform its 30th Street Station into a modern, 21st century facility, fully capable of supporting the large-scale economic development activities planned for the immediate area.
Served by the Market-Frankford Line and five Trolley Lines, SEPTA’s 30th Street Station is the multi-modal nexus between Center City Philadelphia and University City, the first and second largest employment centers in the Greater Philadelphia Region, respectively. The Market-Frankford Line is the workhorse of the SEPTA system, carrying nearly 200,000 daily riders, with a total ridership of 94.6 million unlinked trips in FY 2016. The five Trolley Lines carry over 70,000 riders every day. Combined, the Market-Frankford Line and Trolleys serve 25,000 trips every day at 30th Street Station. In the last 15 years, station usage has increased more than 23 percent, revealing capacity constraints that will ultimately impact SEPTA’s ability to serve the needs of the surrounding area. 30th Street Station is a vital regional hub connecting thousands of daily passengers to world-renowned commerce, education and biomedical centers. However, in its current condition, the station is functionally obsolete, congested and incapable of meeting the mobility needs and design aesthetics of future development.
The CEO Council for Growth, a Council of the Chamber, recognized the need for investments at 30th Street when it developed, “Connecting the Region: A Transportation Strategy for Greater Philadelphia,” a clear and succinct investment portfolio that supports the growth of our economy. Among other identified project areas, the strategy emphasizes the advancement of the 30th Street District Plan and Schuylkill Yards development by investing in Market-Frankford Line capacity improvements and our intercity passenger rail stations at 30th Street Station, Newark, Trenton and a new station at Philadelphia International Airport.
SEPTA, Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation developed the 30th Street District Master Plan, creating a comprehensive vision for the District’s future that includes the potential for 18 million square feet of new private development, $3.8 billion in state and local fiscal benefits and approximately 40,000 jobs. In 2016, Brandywine Trust Realty in partnership with Drexel University, unveiled the Schuylkill Yards Development Plan – the first phase in the 30th Street District Plan. Adjacent to SEPTA’s 30th Street Station, Schuylkill Yards is an innovative, nationally significant 14-acre development that will consist of 7 million gross square feet of mixed-use space, including an innovation lab. Drexel Square, the first piece in re-imagining the area as a place of sophisticated urban design and seamless transportation connections, is scheduled to break ground in 2017. For residents and visitors, SEPTA’s 30th Street Station will be the gateway to Drexel Square, Schuylkill Yards, the wider 30th Street District and University City. To support this and future development, SEPTA must reconfigure 30th Street Station to accommodate anticipated ridership growth and serve as a worthy foundation for future improvements.
Additionally, the station’s close proximity to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station makes it well-positioned to serve regional and national travel. From Amtrak’s third busiest station, passengers can seamlessly connect to New York, Washington and the rest of Amtrak’s national network. All thirteen of SEPTA’s Regional Rail Lines also connect through 30th Station, including a direct connection to the Philadelphia International Airport. There, too, SEPTA Bus routes provide 4,000 daily trips to and from stops around 30th Street Station, and intercity bus services, including Megabus and Bolt Bus, have stop locations within a block of the 30th Street Stations, providing almost 5,000 daily intercity bus trips.
SEPTA’s 30th Street Station is a profound example of the type of mobility and development that is only possible with safe, reliable and plentiful public transportation. For world-class development like the 30th Street District Plan and Schuylkill Yards to come to fruition, the vital transportation assets at SEPTA’s 30th Street Station must be modernized to complement private development and better serve the region’s mobility needs.
SEPTA’s project is the foundation for a re-imagined 30th Street District, providing lasting economic benefits for region’s residents, businesses, and visitors. This project, and the regional transportation and economic benefits it promises, is consistent with the goals of the TIGER program, and I respectfully request your full and fair consideration of this proposal.
President & CEO