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As a part of SEPTA's Trolley Modernization Initiative, it awarded a $714 million contract to Alstom Transportation Inc. to fund 130 new trolley vehicles for 2027. Credit: Roger Ge

SEPTA awarded a $714 million contract to Alstom Transportation Inc. for the purchase of 130 new, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant trolley vehicles scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia in 2027.

Alstom’s contract, which was announced on Feb. 23, represents a substantial progression in SEPTA's Trolley Modernization initiative. The initiative seeks to make Philadelphia’s transportation infrastructure fast, accessible, and easy. Current trolleys have been in use since the early 1980s

The contract also includes an option for SEPTA to additionally purchase up to 30 more vehicles. 

Trolley Modernization funding comes from SEPTA's Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Budget and 12-Year Program.

A major focus in building modern trolley vehicles is ADA accessibility. SEPTA’s Trolley Modernization Program Goals note that one in five Philadelphians have a disability. The report also states that people with disabilities take fewer daily trips than those without disabilities. With the modernization initiative, SEPTA is seeking to open the doors of transportation to disabled communities. 

Features of the new trolleys include low floors, wider paths, and visual messaging for stop locations. The trolleys are also being designed to include designated spaces for riders to store wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, and bicycles. 

“This project will strengthen existing connections by improving transit services that link workers to jobs, students to schools, and diverse communities to each other — supporting local businesses and an affordable cost of living for everyone,” SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said.

Trolley modernization is just one component of the SEPTA Forward Strategic Plan to create a Lifestyle Transit Network to support various types of commutes, such as those for a nine-to-five job, school, errands, and recreation. 

SEPTA’s modernization plans mention the needs of students as a driving force behind their mission. 

The renovation efforts outlined in the Alstom contract are set to be completed within the next five year.