It's so much easier to get to know a city when it is easy to navigate. The core of Philadelphia is based on a street grid system that makes it relatively easy to find your way while walking. The design of the transit system builds on the grid by operating its routes in a grid, making it easy to find your way by bus. Route information is clearly displayed on destination signs. However, SEPTA could greatly improve the understanding of its grid-oriented route network by numbering routes according to some logical system. For example, odd routes could be north-south, with numbers increasing as you move westward, and any routes not conforming to the grid system could be given a letter or some number above 100. Some buses here actually do use letters but not for any reason that employees could tell me.
A map goes a long way. While SEPTA publishes a system map, it's not posted anywhere in the system -- not even at the busy Frankford Transportation Center where over 20 bus routes meet at the northern end of the Market Frankford heavy rail line. Luckily I had brought along the map I purchased last time from the SEPTA transit museum store so I could plan some adventures (and just get around). Sadly the map makes an error that is common among transit maps: clearly displaying the handful of rail lines in unique color, thickness and line type, while making all 100+ bus routes appear the same way. When it's hard for a transit fan to figure out, how are others expected to figure it out?
I believe that many more trips would be taken by bus if bus services were easier to understand and were afforded the same traffic priority and station amenities that rail usually gets by default. In the end, most people care primarily about getting from A to B quickly and efficiently.