The front of the Route 14 bus after it rammed into another SEPTA bus on Roosevelt Boulevard on July 21, 2023. (6ABC)

Update, July 28: On Thursday night, another crash. An out-of-service trolley slammed into a historic house in Southwest Philadelphia. This marks the fifth crash in one week.

The recent spate of SEPTA bus and trolley crashes has sparked alarm and calls for more training and traffic safety measures from Philadelphians and elected officials across the city. 

In just one week, four five incidents have occurred in different neighborhoods, killing one and injuring dozens more. 

What is causing these crashes? Is this a sign of other issues with street safety in Philly? And what are SEPTA and city officials doing about the problems? 

While all four crashes are still under investigation, SEPTA officials maintain they are an “unfortunate coincidence.” The frequency is not indicative of “any one systemic issue,” spokesperson Andrew Busch told KYW News. 

However, the agency is taking the incidents seriously, said SEPTA Chief Safety Officer Ronald Keele, and adding extra training on safety procedures, as well as having safety officials and supervisors talk to staff in order to “reinforce some of those basic but very important practices.” 

“It doesn’t happen every day, [but] we still look at safety every day,” Keele told  6ABC. “We try to prevent these from happening. But like everything else, things do occur.”

Here’s a recap of what happened.

Thursday, July 27

Just after 10:30p.m., an out-of-service trolley crashed into a historic house in Southwest Philadelphia, reportedly going about 40 to 50 miles per hour. It hit an occupied SUV before hitting the house.

SEPTA COO Scott Sauer confirmed to 6ABC that only a maintenance mechanic was on board. The worker, along with two passengers in the SUV, were injured. The caretaker of the historic home from 1766, known as Blue Bell Inn on Cobbs Creek, escaped with her cat unharmed.

The trolley was coming from the Elmwood Depot, and it’s unclear what went wrong. It crashed into a few vehicles before hitting the building, per CBS3, which has video of the incident.

“They’re built very sturdy, 30,000 tons of steel, about 40-year-old cars that have been very durable and reliable,” Sauer told 6ABC.

Tuesday, July 25

A SEPTA Route 31 bus jumped the curb at 15th and Walnut streets, crashing into a building just before 9 p.m. It is not yet known what caused the driver, who was the only person aboard the bus at the time, to lose control of the vehicle. No one besides the driver was injured. 

Monday, July 24

Two trolleys collided just outside of Philly, in Upper Darby, Delaware County. The Route 101 and Route 102 suburban lines were near Lansdowne Avenue and Garrett Road when one rear-ended the other at around 4:30 p.m., according to officials. Five passengers were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. 

Sunday, July 23

At around 8:30 p.m., a bus reportedly hit an electrical pole in Fishtown at Frankford and West Girard avenues, causing non-life-threatening injuries to four people. 

Friday, July 21

Around 12:10 p.m., two SEPTA buses crashed into one another on Roosevelt Boulevard at Shelmire Avenue. A Route 14 bus hit the back of a Route 1 bus, its windshield shattered, and passengers were tossed out of their seats, per reports from the scene. At least 19 people were injured and 72-year-old Siu Nam Mak was killed in the collision. Witness accounts describe one bus rear-ending the other. An investigation is ongoing into the cause of the crash.

According to Chief Safety Officer Keele, there were eight SEPTA-on-SEPTA crashes of bus/trolley vehicles between January 1 and July 25, 2023. In 2022, National Transit Database shows six reported crashes with one injury in 2022, and five recorded in 2021, with no injuries. , surpassing the six recorded in 2022 and the five recorded in 2021.

Heather Chin is Billy Penn's deputy editor. She previously was a digital producer at the Inquirer and an editor at outlets both print and digital — from national breaking news service Flipboard to hyperlocal...