As of Feb. 12, SEPTA’s Owl Link will fly no more. The transit authority is discontinuing the service, owing to low demand, reports Mike DeNardo for KYW Newsradio.
The Owl Link was supposed to be a convenient way for lower Bucks County’s late-night employees to commute to and from downtown Phila. It used an Uber-like mobile app to connect suburban-bound regional rail or bus passengers with shared minibus trips to their destinations, often the many warehouses in Bristol and Bensalem.
Not enough of them, however, took advantage of the service. SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch said the peak ridership was only 10–12 people.
“The initial projections that we had going into the pilot was that we would have approximately 44 people riding each night,” he said. “We came well below projections.”
Glitchy technology may also have played a role. The minibus rides, summoned by app, generated numerous contacts with a call center to address problems.
He said the app also proved to be problematic.
The Owl Link program may not turn out to be a total wash. SEPTA believes it may pave the way for an improvement on the next iteration of the plan.
“We do believe that micro-transit has a future at SEPTA,” Busch said. “It just will probably take on a different shape when we move forward.”
More on the demise of SEPTA’s Owl Link service is at KYW Newsradio.