Behind the scenes, SEPTA also spent stimulus money to rebuild rail yards, power substations, signals, and bridges.
"I think it was the biggest amount of work we ever had going at once, spread all over the system," chief engineer Jeffrey Knueppel said. He said work is substantially complete on 29 of 54 contracts awarded for the 32 stimulus projects.
The last of the construction is to be completed by December 2011, with the $30.6 million makeover of Broad Street subway stations at Spring Garden and Girard, he said.
SEPTA officials will outline the agency's progress next week for the Pennsylvania Stimulus Oversight Committee, which is monitoring how stimulus fund recipients are spending their money.
Among the biggest projects was the $38.6 million upgrade of the Route 101-Media and Route 102-Sharon Hill trolley lines.
The old "Red Arrow" lines got nine miles of continuous welded rails and 11,000 new wood ties, 14 miles of new overhead power lines, 340 repainted power-line supports, fiber-optic lines, 10 traffic lights at road crossings, and 40 repainted stations. The trolley cars were also repainted and repaired while the trolley lines were shut down for the reconstruction.
Tom Judge Jr., chief administrative officer of Upper Darby Township, said the improvements have been well received.
"The mayor and I have attended six community meetings recently, and the input we get from residents close to the trolley lines is that they are very pleased with the stations and the lighting and the signage," Judge said.
He said a big change that would probably go unnoticed by most riders is the creation of independent electrical sections along the tracks, to allow most trolleys to keep operating when power outages stop some traffic. In the past, one electrical outage would shut down all the trolleys.
The upgrade of the century-old trolley system that carries two million riders a year "was an absolutely wonderful use of the dollars available," Judge said.
To spread the benefits of the federal investment as widely as possible, and to minimize the construction impacts on any single part of its system, SEPTA scattered the projects across its five-county network of bus, rail, subway, and trolley routes.
The stimulus spending included $20.5 million for 40 new electric-diesel hybrid buses, $18.5 million for new tracks and equipment at the Fern Rock rail yard, and $6.9 million for improvements on the Chestnut Hill East and West lines.
Many of the 150 Regional Rail stations got makeovers, from painting and new signs to complete replacement. The transit agency is spending $9.2 million to rebuild the Malvern station on the Paoli-Thorndale line and $8.5 million for high-level platforms and additional parking at the Croydon Station on the Trenton line.
The Darby Transportation Center got $2 million for a new shelter and bus turnaround area.
The stimulus-fueled boom for SEPTA made a big dent in the transit agency's backlog of projects, but Knueppel said SEPTA has $500 million in additional work it could do "right away" if it had the money.
Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or email@example.com.