SEPTA Lifting COVID Capacity Limits Starting June 1

A train pulls into the Levittown SEPTA Train Station. Photo by Rick Rickman.

SEPTA is letting everyone back on its trains, buses, and trolleys next month with no capacity limits.

Daily COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania, including confirmed and possible cases. Chart via PA Department of Health.

The decision comes as COVID-19 cases continue to drop in the Philadelphia region, Pennsylvania, and the country overall.

“Removing vehicle capacity limits to meet increased ridership demand is a major step in the region’s recovery,” said General Manager Leslie Richards.

“We are grateful for our riders who counted on SEPTA throughout the pandemic, and we are excited to safely welcome back those who may be taking the system for the first time in over a year.”

Through most of the pandemic, SEPTA has capped ridership on buses to 20 people per vehicle.

The new Estimated Seat Availability Dashboard tool will also adjust to the removed capacity limit. Right now, 20 riders on a bus is considered to have “Standing Room Only.” Starting in June, it will show at least “Few Seats Available” until there are literally no remaining open seats.

The new policy may have less of an immediate impact on the Regional Rail. Ridership sat below 40 percent pre-pandemic levels on this line as of late April.

The transportation authority is also pushing to assure riders that all of its buses, trolleys, and trains are safe. A statement from SEPTA says their vehicles all exceed CDC recommendations for air exchange in indoor spaces.

“SEPTA has also closely examined ventilation on its vehicles and has upgraded some air filters. SEPTA’s vehicles are very well ventilated – air fully changes on all vehicles every two-to-three minutes, due to a combination of efficient HVAC systems and doors opening frequently for customers to board and exit.”

In compliance with federal guidelines, SEPTA is still mandating masks on all modes of transportation. This applies even to people who are fully vaccinated.