Thursday, July 25, 2002

ARCHIVES - 07/25/02

New CARD system radio consoles are now appearing on buses operating out of Southern. As for the older buses in the fleet (40-ft Neos and NABIs), there are no plans to replace the 3-digit block signs with a four digit display or to add a static number in front of the block sign. Once the CARD system is installed on all SEPTA buses, only the New Flyers, Neo artics, and ElDorados will have block displays showing all four digits.

Monday, July 15, 2002

ARCHIVES - 07/15/02

A Pottstown Urban Transit bus was involved in a serious accident in North Coventry Twp on Wednesday night. Nova RTS #57 was operating the North Coventry line when it struck a minivan on Laurelwood Rd at Fisher Av near the Coventry Mall. The minivan had turned off of Fisher onto Laurelwood and right into the path of the PUT bus. The PUT bus then veered to the left, causing damage to three front lawns before coming to a stop on Laurelwood. The driver of the minivan was taken to a local hospital with head and neck injuries; the PUT driver and at least 3 passengers were taken to Pottstown Memorial Medical Center for minor injuries.

The new CARD system radio consoles are starting to be added to Allegheny's buses in addition to the many buses at Midvale which have been retrofit. There is a report that some buses at Callowhill are also getting the new radio system as well, but I have yet to see a Callowhill Neo or NABI with the new console.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

ARCHIVES - 07/10/02

SEPTA has issued a request for proposal for the purchase of up to 360 diesel powered low floor buses for delivery between 2004 and 2006. This order would effectively retire the Neoplan fleet by the end of 2006. SEPTA will accept bids until September 10, then likely award the bid at either the October Board meeting.

The two test DE40LF coaches that SEPTA is slated to receive in a few months are tentatively numbered 5601H and 5602H. I doubt that they will retain those numbers once the rest of the 100 D40LF coaches arrive next year.

More buses at Midvale - particularly the NABIs - are being retrofit with the newer sign control panels. According to one Midvale operator, the control panels being installed on the NABIs is more advanced than the ones on the Neoplan artic, ElDorado, and New Flyer fleets. The new panels are being installed as part of the communications system upgrade to the new Computer Aided Radio Dispatch (CARD) system that SEPTA has needed since the end of the first Bush administration.

The new system is part of the reason that SEPTA is going to a four-digit block system which began in February at most depots and in April at Frontier. The block number system, once it's in full effect, will display a four-digit block on all artics, ElDorados, and New Flyers; most of the artics and ElDorados at Midvale are starting to display a four digit block. The first digit represents the depot the bus is assigned to: 1xxx = Comly; 2xxx = Frankford; 3xxx = Midvale; 4xxx = Red Arrow; 5xxx = Allegheny; 6xxx = Frontier; 7xxx = Southern; 8xxx = Elmwood; 9xxx = Callowhill.

DART First State has successfully added a similar system on all of their buses within the past year, including the soon to be retired Flxibles. Ironically enough, some of the older DART radios have been installed on some of the Fords operating out of Frontier.

Speaking of DART, it appears that the new NABI standard floor and high floor buses have started to arrive in Wilmington. The high floors will be numbered 501-519 and are model 416.13; the low floors will be numbered 520-563. This means that the days of Flxibles ruling the road in New Castle County are numbered. DART has issued a press release about the new buses, but oddly enough, unlike a couple of years ago when they posted a picture of a Gillig low floor, there are no pictures of the new NABIs.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

ARCHIVES - 07/09/02

Allegheny 7120, operating on the 65 (5207 block) was rearended by a Ford Probe on 66 St near Lansdowne Av at around 1:15pm this afternoon. The remainder of the run was obviously cancelled. The following 65 bus, 5273 (9606 block) was filled to capacity, and also carried a wheelchair rider, making for a very crowded trip. 7120 returned to Allegheny on its own power.

A disabled westbound El train near 40 St station caused delays during the PM peak hour tonight. Some trains were delayed up to 15 minutes due to the incident, which occured at around 5:00pm.

The Neoplan demonstrator is now tentatively due to arrive on SEPTA property on Thursday, and will be put into service as early as Monday.

Friday, July 05, 2002

ARCHIVES - 07/05/02

During yesterday's Welcome America festivities and price gouging festival ($2.00 for a 16 ounce soda?) along the Ben Franklin Parkway, 33 SEPTA buses, a mix of NABIs, New Flyers, Neo artics, and Neo 3264 were staged along 21 and 22 Sts on either side of the Parkway. The buses initially were staged along Spring Garden between the El Station and 5 St. Buses involved were Allegheny 7103, 7105, 7110, 7112 and 7147; Callowhill 5005, 5427, 5429, 5446, 5449, 5450, 5463 and 5465; Frankford 5249, 5344, 5355, 5360 and 5361; Midvale 3264, 5156, 5157, 5164, 5172, 5183, 5212, 5222, 5229 and 5239; and Southern 5471, 5474, 5480, 5486 and 5491.

As the buses were staging at Spring Garden, several passengers waited at the Spring Garden El station for the 4:43pm 25 to Frankford to show up - it never did. Supervisors on site were far too busy preparing the buses which would later transport tourists out of the Parkway area after the fireworks to follow up on a missing 25 bus, which I'm sure is going to play very nicely along Aramingo Av. The 5:13pm 25 to Frankford did show up, however I'm sure that driver got an earful from passengers forced to wait in the opressive heat (though there was plenty of shade with the large El/I-95 overpass) at Spring Garden.

Incidentially, Broad St Subway, El and Subway-surface service ran on a regular Sunday schedule. If last year's fiascos at the 19 St, 22 St, and 30 St stations are any inidciation, then I would imagine that streetcars and El trains were ridiculously overcrowded. SEPTA needs to understand that extending service hours and adding extra service are two different things. There's no reason why El service couldn't operate every 5 minutes, nor any reason why 4 or 5 subway-surface cars couldn't operate between City Hall and 40 St Portal or 49 & Woodland.

Midvale 5193 - operating on the 47 (3306 block) was apparently retrofit with the newer sign control panels used on SEPTA's new buses starting with the Neoplan artics. The sign control panel on 5193 is in approximately the same position as they would be on the newer buses - over the operator's head and to the left. I would guess that the rest of the NABI fleet will follow suit.

The City of Philadelphia is testing a new Thomas/Dart SLF200 low floor bus on the Phlash Center City loop. The bus is CNG powered and has red and blue stripes instead of the purple livery on most Phlash vehicles. The destination sign is supposedly a TwinVision LED, however the word "Phlash" is labeled in the sign areas rather than using the signs themselves.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

ARCHIVES - 07/03/02

Service on routes out of Allegheny Depot were substantially delayed due to an "illegal demonstration" by Roofers Union Local 30. NBC 10 reported that buses were being brought in from other depots to fill try and cover service. Routes 6, 9, 27, 33, 48, and 60 operated with substantial delays with substantial delays once service resumed; the 65 also operated with some delays, but the delays weren't as bad, thanks to the split operation with Callowhill.

The dispute is over the use on non-union contractors working at Allegheny. No arrests were made during the protest, which began at 5:00am and was curtailed at around 11:30am, following an injunction by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge. Service on the Allegheny routes slowly returned to normal by around 3:00pm.

The blockade by the Roofers Union may also raise controversy regarding pay status of Allegheny employees. There are high ranking people within SEPTA who are convinced that since Allegheny employees did not cross the picket lines, that may result in the forfeiture of pay. On the other hand, even if the operators crossed the picket line, the blockade would've made it impossible for buses to leave the depot anyway. It's one of those Catch-22 situations. Yet, it couldn't have happened at a worse time, considering it's a holiday week and the heat was very oppressive.

Yet, this isn't the first time there's been controversy over roof repairs at Allegheny. According to one Allegheny operator, SEPTA used a non-union contractor to repair the roof at Allegheny about 5-6 years ago, causing a similar protest by Local 30. How interesting that the roof has been such a problem at Allegheny for so long, considering the depot was re-built in the mid to late 1980s.

Service on several routes in the suburbs - particularly in Delaware County - will be subject to detours and delays tomorrow. This is a listing of trouble spots in Delaware County that SEPTA never bothered to mention:
  • Routes 55 and 77 may be detoued in and around Jenkintown due to a parade
  • Route 97 will be detoured off of Fayette St in Conshohocken due to the annual Soap Box Derby
  • Route 101 may be subject to delays due to Springfield's parade, particluarly near the Leamy Av and Springfield Rd stations
  • Route 102 may be subject to delays in Clifton Heights and Aldan due to a parade
  • Route 104 service will be delayed about 20-30 minutes due to the Marple-Newtown parade between PA 252 and Malin Rd (Broomall Fire Company)
  • Route 109 will be detoured in Clifton Heights along Baltimore Pike between Marple Av and Church Lane due to a parade
  • Route 112 may be delayed along Darby Road due to the Llanerch 4th of July parade
  • Route 113 service will be detoured off of MacDade Blvd in Collingdale between Clifton and Staley Avenues due to a parade; service will most likely operate via Chester Pike; the 113 may also be delayed in Glenolden near Ashland Av due to that borough's parade
  • Buses operating through the west side of the City of Chester, including the Chester Transportation Center (37, 109, 113, 114, and 117) may be subject to delays near the Chester YMCA at 7 & Sproul due to the annual Chester Walk/Run
  • Route L service along Germantown Pike between the Barren Hill Fire Company (Church Rd) and Miles Park (Joshua Rd) in Whitemarsh Twp, Montgomery County, will be affected due to a parade, service would probably be detoured via Ridge Pike
The MCI Demo will still be on SEPTA property rhough Saturday. It will not be used on Thursday, but will be in service on Friday and Saturday on 123, 124, and 125 trips.

Yesterday, 3234 was spotted on S High St in West Chester, training operators for the new 104 extension to West Chester Univesity.

The Neoplan cruiser being leased from Pittsburgh is now tenatively slated to arrive on Thursday, July 11.

The Bucks County TMA is also participating in the Code Red Ozone Alert days, which will allow riders of the Doylestown DART and the Pennridge, Quakertown, and Warminster RUSH services to ride free when the Ozone Alert reaches "Code Red" stages.

DART First State will once again offer free rides until 12 noon on an Ozone Alert "Code Red" weekday.

Although it appears that the 5600s may be needed sooner rather than later, the official scheduled delivery date for the last of the original 300 low floor buses will not arrive until April.

On a side note, all 8600/8700/8800 Neoplans are now officially off the roster and will no longer see revenue service. These buses were removed from service at the end of June.This is contributing to what will hopefully be a temporary bus shortage at Callowhill, where some ElDorados onto the 52 during peak hours, as was the case on Monday with 4580. It's also not helping that some Callowhill buses are being used on the 36 shuttle between Woodland Shops and Penrose Plaza.

Monday, July 01, 2002

ARCHIVES - 07/01/02

El service was disrupted at around 4:55pm after a female passenger collapsed on board a westbound "A" train at 30 St station. Westbound service was held for about 15 minutes to allow Philadelphia Fire EMTs and SEPTA Police to arrive at the scene. And, in an act of sheer stupidity, one ignorant passenger had the audacity to complain about it. It's almost a miracle that idiot wasn't beaten to a bloody pulp by other passengers.

As a result of the El delays, the 5:33pm 104 to West Chester departed with a standing load, with a couple of unfortunate passengers forced to sit in the rear stairwell. And, yes, it ran local, arriving in West Chester about 5 minutes late.

Expect major delays on Thursday, July 4 on the 104 in Broomall and Newtown Square due to the annual Marple-Newtown 4th of July parade. The parade will occur in the westbound lanes, forcing eastbound and westbound traffic into the eastbound lanes. Delays of up to 20-30 minutes can be expected, mainly affecting trips to and from West Chester. (Of course, this is not noted at the SEPTA web site along with the long list of other systemwide detours and delays.

The Pennridge RUSH and Quakertown RUSH services began operation today. Both RUSH services will operate to the Lansdale Rail Station on the R5 Lansdale/Doylestown line during peak hours. SEPTA TransPasses and TrailPasses will be honored on these routes, as they are on the existing Warminster RUSH, with single fares costing $1.00 or 15 TMA tokens (not SEPTA tokens) for $10.00.

The TMA of Chester County will offer free rides on the SCCOOT service between West Chester, Chadds Ford and Oxford and on the PHLYER service between Exton Mall and Phoenixville during Code Red Ozone Alert days.

Due to a printing error, the Sunday 6:30am trip on Route 14 does not serve Langhorne, but terminates on Roosevelt Blvd the Bucks/Philadelphia County border.

The KYW 1060 Big Blue Bus (Southern 5383) will be in service tomorrow on Route 28. The schedule for the next four Tuesdays for 5385 are as follows: July 9: Routes 14/20; July 16: Route 58; July 23: Route 24; July 30: Route C.