Thursday, June 27, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/27/02

Now that Comly has all of their 5500s, Red Arrow is starting to get their next batch of 10 New Flyers. 5586 was spotted this afternoon on the 104 (4237 block).

Meanwhile, more Neo-junk from the city is starting to show up on Red Arrow and Frontier routes. 3046 was also spotted on West Chester Pike, while 3110 was in Center City running on the 124/125 (6189 block). Some ex-Comly units are also showing up at Midvale, particularly on the 56.

The MCI demo (6001) will be taken out of service at the end of this week. Starting on July 9, SEPTA will test a Neoplan AN-345/3 cruiser on loan from the Port Authority of Allegheny County. There is no guarantee that SEPTA will go with cruisers in the near future, but there is some hope.

Within the next few weeks, SEPTA is preparing to issue an RFP for an order of 300 buses, with an option for an additional 60, over the next three years. The buses will be 40 foot low floors and are slated for delivery starting in 2004. Between 2004 and 2006, SEPTA will recieve 100 buses, with an option for up to 20 per year, which, coupled with the arrival of the 5600 New Flyers starting next April, would have the entire Neoplan 40-ft fleet off the roster by the end of 2006.

The first of the New Flyer DE40LF hybrid buses are on the production line and will be rotated around the system starting in September. Upon completion, New Flyer will be testing the DE40LFs before delivering them to SEPTA.

The SEPTA Board approved the Annual Service Plan, which will alter several Red Arrow routes and City Routes 9, 35, and the 61 Express. With the new schedules this fall, an 10:45pm trip will be added on the 123 from King of Prussia to 69 St Terminal. Route 104 service to West Chester will be reduced to every hour before 2:00pm and after 5:00pm Saturdays and all day Sundays. Route 122 - which would replace most of current Route 111 - would serve Secane, Morton, and Springfield Mall during peak hours.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/26/02

With the arrival of the 5500s at Comly, some Neo DKs are being exiled into the suburban garages. 3115 was seen on the 104 last night, while 3101 and 3102 were also spotted along West Chester Pike at various times during the day. Some ex-Comly units are also filtering onto Frontier routes. It's bad enough when SEPTA tries to deny a bus shortage in the suburbs, but when they alleviate the shortage by sending older junk from the city garages, that really doesn't help.

SEPTA will offer modified Saturday Regional Rail service on Friday, July 5 as part of the Welcome America invasion of tourists. There really isn't any extra service being offered on July 4th for the fireworks on The Parkway, however the Broad St and Market-Frankford lines will operate in the tunnels later than normal, which, given last year's dangerous overcrowding at several stations in Center City, could be around 2:00am. More comments on this issue later.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/23/02

Rumors of Amtrak's possible demise are concerning Regional Rail riders on the former Penn Central side of the RRD system. Service on the R1 Airport, R2 Marcus Hook/Wilmington, R5 Paoli/Thorndale, R6 Cynwyd, R7 Trenton, and R8 Chestnut Hill West would be affected by an Amtrak shutdown, as those lines operate over Amtrak owned right of way. R3 Media/Elwyn service would not be affected as that line merges with the Airport and Marcus Hook lines on SEPTA ROW, rather than Amtrak, into University City, which is also on SEPTA ROW. SEPTA has not released it's contingency plan (assuming of course they have one) in case of a Penn Central side shutdown of the Regional Rail system.

Friday, June 21, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/21/02

Two Comly New Flyers were involved in an accident on Roosevelt Blvd during the AM peak this morning. At around 7:00am, 5541, operating on the 1 to Red Lion & Academy, rear-ended 5564 - running on the 14 - on the northbound side of Roosevelt Blvd at Harbison. Based on some pictures and video, the front end of 5541 was damaged. I'd imagine that there's some damage to the rear of 5564, but I didn't see any footage of that bus.

NJ Transit bus schedules are changing starting tomorrow. There are a few minor changes on South Jersey routes, which will be posted shortly.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/20/02

Regional Rail service within Center City was disrupted today due to a bomb scare on 22 St. Shuttle buses were also placed into service yesterday within Center City, but no reasons were given as to what happened.

SEPTA made a few minor modifications to the Annual Service Plan, particularly on Routes 35, 103, 104, and 111. Route 35 will now have a bi-directional routing within Manayunk instead of it's current loop starting in September, which will operate via Main St, Leverington, Umbria, Fountain, Silverwood, Leverington, Manayunk Av, and Roxborough Av to Ridge Av. Route 103 will operate via Cricket Av, Athens Av, and Rittenhouse Pl to Lancaster Av in Lower Merion; Ardmore Av service has been eliminated. Route 104 service to West Chester may see some reduced service, but 30 minute mid-day and Saturday headways have been retained. Route 111 will be routed to serve office parks in Concordville, operating via Conchester Rd, Lacure Av, Concord Industrial Park, Aldan Av, Brinton Place Office Center, Evergreen Dr, the Shops at Brinton Lake, and Brinton Lake Rd. The final proposal will be voted upon by the SEPTA Board at next week's meeting.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/18/02

P&W service was disrupted during the PM peak period due to the derailment of a work car near Matsonford station. As a result, P&W service was single tracking between Radnor and Hughes Park, completely disrupting the PM peak schedule. All express service was suspended with Norristown service making all stops. At around 5:00pm, service was alternating between Bryn Mawr and Norristown locals, however once the crowds started to dissipate, all service went Norristown local. The starter at the P&W platform kept making announcements about service delays during the entire incident.

The same could not be said for 104 service during that same period. The 5:33pm West Chester express didn't even show up, while the 5:47pm Newtown Square local departed 7 minutes late (using 3061) and the 5:52pm departed 3 minutes late (using 3154). West Chester commuters were further enraged when the 6:02pm departed 69 St at 6:10pm 8 minutes late, and with a nearly full load west of Newtown Square. Only one announcement was made rearding the 5:33pm trip, claiming only that it was delayed with no further explaination. If this is not further evidence that Chester County commuters are getting the short end of the stick from SEPTA, then tell me what is.

Then there's the case of 4412 block; the 5:45pm 109 to Chester was seen using 4549 - an ElDorado. Suffice to say that trip left with a dangerously full load. From what I hear, 4549 was the only bus available in the entire lot when the operator checked in. But, of course, there is no vehicle shortage, right?

The MCI demo that is on SEPTA property is apparently a newer demo, complete with LED sign and otherwise looks to be built to NJT specs, complete with LED tail lights, and is numbered 6001. Demo 6000, you may recall, was built to NYC Transit specs.

Once all 85 New Flyers arrive at Comly, some 3000s may be sent off to Midvale, so that the remaining 8600/8700 series Neos can be retired. Here's hoping that SEPTA will preserve at least one of the 8600s as a museum bus.

The big controversy over the weekend was SEPTA's unveiling of the new Silverliner V cars. The good news is that 2+2 seating will be offered; the bad news is that only 30% of the new cars will have 2+2 seating - located in the middle of the car - with the dreaded 3+2 seating at both ends of the car. Why is it that other railroads (Virginia Railway Express and most commuter rail systems in California come to mind) actually do something that is completely foreign to SEPTA's management, namely take customer input and add more amenities? Wait, I forgot, this is SEPTA. SEPTA's idea of amenities would be just getting the buses and trains running on time. Or even better - having enough buses to cover runs at Red Arrow. Wow, what a concept!

Thursday, June 13, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/13/02

More equipment problems on the 92 caused 6019 block to be annulled. Some passengers trying to get to West Chester were stranded for upwards of 3 hours as a result of the annulled block.

The complete listing of schedule changes are now listed on a separate page, since there were so many changes that took place, they couldn't all fit on this page.

The MCI demo is back at the Red Arrow shops. It's unclear when the bus will be back on the road, but expect to see it on the 104 (peak hour trips to West Chester), 123, 124, and 125.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/12/02

Bus service along West Chester Pike west of Robinson was severely delayed by about 20-30 minutes due to police activity in Havertown. For at least the second time this week, the 5:33pm express to West Chester ran local with a standing load, leaving 69 St about 15 minutes late.

Monday, June 10, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/10/02

Regular riders on the 5:33pm 104 West Chester Express to Eagle Rd got a rude surprise when it was announced that the trip is now a local making all stops - and adding about 3-4 minutes to the run time. The lame excuse offered by Terminal Manager J. O'Rourke (who obviously took lessons in dealing with the public from Richard Maloney) was that riders travelling to Eagle Rd were inconvenienced by a lack of service.

Considering that there's a 123 that leaves for King of Prussia at 5:25pm and a 112 that leaves at 5:40pm, that's a pretty ridiculous explanation.

There was no new timetable issued for the 104 this time around for whatever reason. How O'Rourke still has such a key assignment within SEPTA is beyond me. The sad part is that some passengers tell me he's actually an improvement from his predecessors (which I find hard to believe).

The good news is that there's no longer a bus shortage at Red Arrow. The bad news is that there is still an operator shortage. Service both last Monday and today was worse than usual as some trips were forced to be cancelled.

Speaking of the aforementioned Mr. Maloney, DVARP's newsletter reports that NBC10's Sheila Allen-Stephens was thwarted by Maloney in her efforts to get interior footage of seats in SEPTA's Regional Rail cars as part of a May 29 story in the ongoing "Seat-Gate" controversy involving the new Silverliner V order.Here's hoping that NBC 10 does a hit piece on the fact that some T-Cars are on the road with expired inspection stickers - as is the case with SUR4243, which was spotted yesterday at 69 St Terminal and today at Arrott Terminal with stickers that expired in March. Shades of SUR6393 from this past April in Frankford (see the April 2002 archives page).

Someone at Comly may want to be reminded that the 73 is a wheelchair accessible route. During the afternoon, 8763, 8775, and 3098 were all seen running the 73 at one point or another. On a related note, the 24 saw 3108 running 2286 block even though the 24 is also an accessible line.

The 6:20pm 92/133 run from West Chester to King of Prussia (6020 block) saw 3203 - a non-accessible bus covering that run, which usually sees an ElDorado.

Friday, June 07, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/07/02

In case anyone has forgotten, the SEPTA Roadeo will take place tomorrow at the Veteran's Stadium parking lot (11 St/Pattison Av side; enter from Pattison) starting at 8:00am. Hopefully, the weather will hold out this year, unlike last year when some heavy rain arrived right at the tail end of the event.SEPTA, NJ Transit, DART First State, Greyhound, Martz, and the School District of Philadelphia are among the usual groups of operators who will have displays at the event. As usual, there will also be a celebrity bus roadeo held, however there will be a new champion this year. WPVI meteorologist Sally Ann Mosley is not expected to compete this year. Oddly enough, SEPTA hasn't posted anything about the Roadeo on its web site, so more specific details about this year's event are few and far between. (IMPORTANT NOTE: SEPTA Roadeo 2002 update will occur tomorrow; in brief, John Rinylo of Southern Depot is the SEPTA Roadeo champion (this is a recording...); former Phillies reliever (and occasional guest PA announcer at the Vet) Tug McGraw won the Celebrity Roadeo. More details and pictures will be posted within the next week or so...)

Tomorrow will be a sad day for trackless fans in Northeast Philadelphia, as it will mark the final day of ETB service on the 59, 66, and 75 for at least the next 18 months. Construction around the Frankford Terminal area will block access for the ETBs during this time, hence the busing. If you're going to the SEPTA Roadeo tomorrow, you may want to head up to Frankford afterwards to get some parting shots of the ETBs in the Northeast.

SEPTA will operate a shuttle bus on Sunday for the Odunde Street Festival on South St. Service will operate between 15 St/JFK Blvd and 19 St/Lombard every 20 minutes between 11:00am and 7:00pm. Interesting how in recent weeks, SEPTA has operated more shuttle route service than it has in previous years...

SEPTA is in the planning stages for its next 300 bus order, which could be placed as early as the end of this year. SEPTA is strongly considering returning to New Flyer for their next batch of buses, even though Neoplan has expressed intrest in the upcoming order.

SEPTA will not operate the Center City Bus Loop to the Mann Music Center on Saturday for the Manheim Steamroller concert. Apparently, fans of Manheim Steamroller do not take transit...

There are a ton of detours around the Manayunk area due to the US Pro Cycling Championship and the related drunkeness festivals along Main St. In any case, the Wissahickon Transfer Center will be closed and all transfers made at that station will be moved to Ridge and Midvale (K terminus).

Monday, June 03, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/03/02

Listed below are the major highlights for the City and Red Arrow schedule changes. CTD schedules change on Sunday, Red Arrow on the 10th, and subway/elevated schedules change on the 16th (as noted above, full details of the timetable changes are listed on a separate page):

  • ROUTE 1: Seasonal schedule adjustments to reflect reduced service needs to the IRS Building; mid-day service will continue
  • ROUTE 8: Seasonal adjustments to reflect the end of the academic year for the School District of Philadelphia
  • ROUTE 14: Added early AM service to Oxford Valley; other weekday peak hour adjustments, mainly IRS related
  • ROUTE 26: Route now operates out of Midvale
  • ROUTE 27: Select weekday trips will only stop at Metroplex on request
  • ROUTE 33: Sunday base service reduced from every 10 minutes to every 12 minutes
  • ROUTES 47 & 57: Some trips moved from Midvale to Southern
  • ROUTE 52: AM & PM peak hour trip time changes; short-turn trippers to Parkside Loop ended for summer
  • ROUTE 54: All trips now assigned to Midvale
  • ROUTE 73: Service now operated out of Comly
  • ROUTE 77: Run times adjusted to accomodate detour in Cheltenham and Abington Twps and for Limited Stop service along Cottman
  • ROUTE 76 (SPREE): New routing and service hours (see related item below)
  • ROUTES H/XH: Peak headway adjustments; express service eliminated
  • ROUTE 100: Peak headways reduced to every 15 minutes, with 2 car trains on all Norristown Express trips; weekend run time adjustments
  • ROUTE 101: Daily 1:25am round trip to Media added, mainly to accomodate overnight shift at Drexelbrook; Saturday service levels reduced from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes; Sunday service doubled from 60 minute headways to 30 minute headways
  • ROUTE 102: Saturday service levels reduced from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes; Sunday service doubled from 60 minute headways to 30 minute headways
  • ROUTE 105: Run time adjustments due to Lancaster Av construction in Tredyffrin and Easttown
  • ROUTE 108: New Sunday 6:30am trip to Philadelphia International Airport
  • ROUTE 109: Saturday base service operates every 20 minutes between 9:00am and 7:00pm (depending on time of day, service increases or decreases)
  • ROUTE 112: Minor weekday time adjustments
  • ROUTE 123: Revised weekday and weekend run times, mainly due to I-76/US 202 interchange construction
  • ROUTE 305: Sunday schedule now matches Saturday schedule, primarily due to increased service on the 102 trolley
In a seemingly futile attempt to increase ridership, SEPTA is restructuring the 76 Center City loop. Service will originate at the Penn's Landing loop, then operate via 2 St, Walnut, 18 St, Market, 15 St, S Penn Sq, Juniper, Market, Front and Chestnut. Hours of operation will also be extended until 6:00pm, however Saturday service will be eliminated starting July 8. An all-day pass on the Spree will be available for $2.00, eliminating the $1.00 per trip fare. Of course, this is virtually the same routing as the 21/42, but what does it matter to SEPTA? As long as the gullible fools at the Center City District are willing to foot the bill for this folly, then taxpayers should have nothing to worry about.

It appears that Midvale will get the lion's share of 5600 series New Flyers when they arrive next year. Tentatively 85 of the 100 buses in this batch will go to Midvale with the remaining 15 going to Frontier.

The misadventures of 6019 block - the ever controversial 92/133 run from hell - continued today, as the bus assigned to that run reportedly had equipment problems. The 7:20pm trip to Exton Square Mall never even made it into West Chester. And SEPTA wonders why ridership is abysmal on that line?

Sunday, June 02, 2002

ARCHIVES - 06/02/02

Equipement problems over the weekend didn't exactly make life easy for riders on the 104. On Saturday, the 10:30am trip to West Chester didn't even arrive 69 St Terminal. The reported reason was equipment problem at the depot though someone reported the bus broke down at the terminal itself. Considering that Victory Depot is less than 2 blocks from 69 St Terminal, there's no reason that a bus couldn't have been dispatched to cover the 10:30am run and 11:25am return to 69 St Terminal.

To make matters worse, the 11:55am to 69 St Terminal (5322/237 block) arrived in West Chester at 11:59am and didn't leave until 12:08pm - 13 minutes behind schedule. 5322 arrived at the terminal at 1:03pm - an appalling 18 minutes behind schedule, causing more than a few missed connections to other Red Arrow bus and rail routes. There was absolutely no reason for the driver on 104/237 block to have taken that much time between arriving in West Chester and leaving.

On Sunday, 5318 - which was covering 104/234 block - the 2:55pm to 69 St Terminal - suffered a flat street side rear tire...

But, the laziness displayed by that 104 operator on Saturday isn't just limited to the 104. The 1:30pm 113 to Marcus Hook (5144/504 block) left 69 St Terminal about 5 minutes late. The operator was apparently in no hurry to get to her bus in time, as she was seen a couple of berths away talking to some people at 1:30pm. The bus arrived at Darby 6 minutes behind schedule. And people wonder why there is so much criticism of SEPTA these days?

The Bucks County TMA has discontinued the Levittown RUSH service which connected the Levittown-Tullytown R7 Trenton Line station with businesses in the Levittown section of Falls Twp and Tullytown borough, presumably due to very low ridership. It probably didn't help that most of the service in Tullytown was already covered by SEPTA's 128 bus...

While the Levittown RUSH service has been eliminated, the Bucks County TMA is starting two new RUSH services on Monday, July 1. The Pennridge RUSH will operate peak-hour service between the Lansdale R5 station and the Perkasie/Sellersville area. The Quakertown RUSH will also connect with the R5 at Lansdale station...

The 66 saw a mix of Neoplans and tracklesses yesterday. SEPTA appears to be phasing in the buses along the trackless lines in Northeast Philadelphia. The 59, 66, and 75 will go all diesel bus starting with the June 9 timetable change...

SEPTA is planning a major reshuffling of equipment within the next few weeks. Part of the rationale is to pull the 8700s and 8800s out of service by July, when the next scheduled inspection is due. Another reason is to accomodate the added number of buses slated to go to Frankford for the trackless shuttles. Presumably, extra buses will also be sent to Southern for use on the 36 shuttle...

Buses being used on the 36 shuttle between Woodland Shops and Eastwick Loop are being pulled from Southern, with a few from Callowhill. As was the case last year on the 10, Elmwood operators running the buses are reporting to Southern or Callowhill then operating their runs. Neoplans will be used on the shuttles since the Elmwood operators are not qualified to operate the NABIs or New Flyers...