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SEPTA Celebrates Grand-Opening of Accessible Travel Center

Kristin Geiger
Press Officer

As Patricia Russell, a blind SEPTA rider tapped her white cane to board a mock-up of the front one-third of a SEPTA bus, her travel trainer said "That's it, find the entrance." Patricia Russell was one of three officers from SEPTA's Advisory Committee for Accessible Transportation (SAC) who demonstrated how riders with disabilities would use SEPTA's new Accessible Travel Center, the first multi-model training center of its kind.

Thaddeus Robinson demonstrated how to exit a subway car. A "bridge plate" was placed over the gap between the simulated subway platform and the regulation-size subway door opening. Thaddeus expertly navigated his wheelchair over the heavy metal plate onto the simulated subway platform. Denice Brown, who is visually impaired, stood on the simulated regional rail platform. "I really appreciate the tactile area on the platform," she said. "The noise made when I tap my cane lets me know that I won't fall into the track area." Denice explained and exhibited how she uses her cane to board SEPTA Regional Rail.

With the center's opening, the freedom of traveling independently on public transportation becomes possible for more people with disabilities. SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Region III Deputy Administrator, Reginald Lovelace, officers of SAC and representatives from PennDOT, DART First State and New Jersey Transit were in attendance for the official ribbon cutting ceremony of the new center.

"Creation of the Accessible Travel Center demonstrates SEPTA's commitment to accessibility," SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey said. "The disabled community asked for this facility, we listened and we responded."

Funded in part by a $140,000 FTA New Freedom Grant, SEPTA's Accessible Transit Center is located in the concourse of Suburban Station (adjacent to Au Bon Pain) in Center City.

The center features a mock-up of the front one-third of a ramp-equipped SEPTA bus complete with fare box, wheelchair berths and stop announcements. Replicated subway and regional rail platforms provide SEPTA's disabled passengers, their aides and companion animals the opportunity to practice safe boarding procedures. Realistic graphics make it appear as though the center's users are riding a bus or waiting on a station platform. Disabled riders can also utilize audiovisual teaching materials in the center's classroom to familiarize themselves with SEPTA vehicles and services.

"Thanks to everyone who made this momentous occasion possible," Roderick Powell, chair of SEPTA's SAC committee said. He added, "There is no part of our society more dependent on public transportation than people with disabilities. The ability to use public transit opens the door to opportunities for employment, increased independence and mobility, more access to community activities and additional independent living skills for the disabled community."

The Authority is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of its paratransit service, CCT Connect. During this 30 years, SEPTA has invested several billion dollars to make its vehicles, facilities and services usable by and accessible to its riders. With the exception of trolleys, all SEPTA modes of transportation are now accessible and SEPTA has nearly 100 accessible stations. SEPTA's elevator maintenance and repair program, a critical issue for wheelchair users and others with limited mobility, has established a national standard for excellence.

SEPTA's Accessible Travel Center is available for use by professional travel trainers, orientation and mobility instructors and service animal trainers throughout the Authority's service area. To schedule an appointment, complete the online form at or contact a CCT Customer Service representative at 215-580-7145.

The Accessible Travel Center is located in Room 108 of SEPTA's Suburban Station concourse.

Patricia Russell exits the front one-third mock-up of a SEPTA bus with her travel trainer as CCT Connect Chief Officer Warren Montague explains how this portion of the Center will be utilized.

Inside of the simulated bus, realistic graphics make it appear as though the center's users are actually riding a SEPTA bus.

SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey, SAC officers, CCT Administrators and FTA Region III Deputy Administrator Reginald Lovelace cut the ribbon to commemorate the opening of the new travel center.

A cake was cut to celebrate the Authority's 30th Anniversary of its paratransit service, CCT Connect.