SEPTA makes public transportation more sustainable

By Andy Sharpe
Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, July 18, 2011

Next time you ride on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford train, you might be helping to make Philadelphia a more sustainable city in more ways than you think. Soon, not only will you be using electric public transportation, but you’ll be helping to conserve electricity through an innovative partnership between SEPTA, Viridity Energy, and the industrial-strength battery manufacturer Saft. This is all thanks to a $900,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA).

SEPTA, Viridity, and Saft hope that Market-Frankford Line trains will eventually be able to run on their own recycled power in a process known as regenerative braking. Saft will provide one megawatt battery along the railway that will enable trains to pick up their electricity from the braking of other trains. If all goes as planned, SEPTA will even be able to generate revenue by selling excess electricity back into the general power grid.

What is even more exciting about this is that Philadelphia will be the first city in the country to have a track-side battery to enable this degree of regenerative braking. This latest innovation for Philadelphia is expected to become a reality later this year. If all works as planned, SEPTA could introduce similar electricity regeneration at 32 substations all over the rail system.