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August 13, 2021

Philly to test bus-only lanes on Market Street, JFK Boulevard in Center City

For 18 months, transportation officials will evaluate the effect this has on traffic congestion, transit times and roadway safety

Transportation Buses
Bus-Only Center City Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Bus-only lanes will be installed along sections of Market Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Center City as part of an 18-month test of how this change impacts traffic. Philadelphia transportation officials have partnered with SEPTA and PennDOT on this experiment.

Philadelphia will soon begin an 18-month test on the effect of constructing bus-only lanes on Market Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Center City, a project transportation officials hope will reduce traffic in an area that serves 43 buses per hour during rush hour.

The pilot program, developed by the city in conjunction with SEPTA and PennDOT, will be located on Market Street between 20th and 15th streets and JFK Boulevard between 15th and 19th streets.

Construction of the bus-only lanes is set to begin Monday. On each street, the right-most travel lane will be converted to bus-only use, including SEPTA and other buses. Cars will be able to cross the bus lane to access parking at the curb and to make right turns.

Both roads will remain open during construction and bike lanes along the route should not be affected, officials said.

"This pilot program comes at an exciting time for bus service in our city and region, as SEPTA is embarking on an effort to reimagine the network through the Bus Revolution initiative," SEPTA CEO Leslie Richards said. "We look forward to working with the city and PennDOT to gain valuable insights that will help inform our efforts to enhance bus service with a focus on equity, environment and economy."

SEPTA buses alone provide about 23,000 trips per day across 13 routes on Market Street and JFK Boulevard, city officials said. That accounts for about half of all users of those roads. 

"Transit is an affordable and energy efficient method of transportation," said Christopher Puchalsky, director of policy and strategic initiatives at the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability. "In Philadelphia, 42% of African American residents do not own a car and 50% of households in poverty do not have a car. High quality public transit is critical to addressing the climate crisis and ensuring all residents have access to opportunity."

During construction of the bus-only lanes, residents may see periodic closures of the right-most travel and parking lanes. Pending weather conditions, the project is expected to take one month to complete.

After the 18-month pilot, the project will be evaluated for its effects on roadway safety, transit speed and reliability, congestion and public support. Residents may send comments or questions by email to