Saturday, December 07, 2002

  • WEST CHESTER FIASCO Apparently, the idiots who are in charge of West Chester's Christmas celebration seem to think it's a neat idea to hold said parade on a Friday night during the middle of the evening rush hour. As a result, bus service on the 92, 104, and 119 were completely thrown off schedule. Between 5:00pm and 8:00pm, buses were seemingly lost as to how go get from the north end of the borough to the south end, as the annual Christmas Parade blocked off Gay, Market, Matlack, and New Sts. To make things worse, there were no signs posted instructing passengers as to where to board buses (as per SEPTA tradition), nor was there a supervisor dispatched to West Chester until around 7:00pm. The 6:25pm and 7:20pm 92 buses to Exton failed to show up; the next 92 bus didn't leave for Exton and King of Prussia (via the 133) until 8:20pm. About 15 minutes later, 5325 showed up either as a protect bus, or a bus running very late. At least one 104 operator was so lost, he somehow ended up turning off of Marshall St onto High St, even though the 104 doesn't even come near Marshall. At least these two things are certain: (1) West Chester Borough Council can expect an earful at the next meeting, and (2) so can the SEPTA Board.

  • CUSTOMER DIS-SERVICE So much for the helpful people at SEPTA Passenger Services at Suburban Station. Early Friday morning, I was unfortunate enough to have misplaced my cell phone on the 12:15am R5 to Thorndale (#591). After leaving work, I went from Downingtown to Suburban Station to file a report with Passenger Services. For starters, the jerk behind the counter basically said that no cell phones were turned in, yet didn't even bother to look before telling me so. After I filled out a lost item report, I had requested a copy for my records. In true SEPTA fashion, my request for a copy was denied. Now, if one is filing a lost item report, wouldn't one suspect that he or she would recieve a copy of said report? Not at SEPTA. I then attempted to ask as to when items were turned in from Frazer Yard (where this particular crew and trainset were destined after finishing their run), I was basically blown off by SEPTA's infamous Spokesman/Apologist/Liar Richard Maloney's "mini-me" at the Passenger Services office. Let me point out that the woman who apparently was in charge of Passenger Services at Suburban Station (I'm sure most of the Regional Rail riders who read this site who know who I'm referring to) was probably one of the most customer-oriented employees that SEPTA had to offer. If they in fact replaced her with the aforementioned "mini-Maloney", then for all intents and purposes, customer relations on the Regional Rail side must be at an all-time low.

  • THORNDALE TROUBLES The past 12 hours (since posting of this message) haven't been a great time for R5 Thorndale line riders. On Friday night, train #581 (the 8:15pm from Suburban) was running at least 25 minutes behind schedule into Exton. Also causing problems was the delayed Amtrak Keystone #655 train, which was also well over a half hour late mainly due to problems on the mainline Northeast Corridor from New York. This morning, riders west of Malvern were in for a rude shock in the bitter cold, as the 8:14am from Thorndale to Doylestown via Center City (#1530) didn't operate due to equipment failure at Thorndale. Thanks to protect trains on standby at Powelton Yard (which is the yard adjacent to 30 St Station), the Doylestown side of the run was able to be filled. Unfortunately, one SEPTA conductor who was supposed to catch the #1530 to make her assignment was stranded at Paoli. The #8532 (9:04am from Paoli) was undoubtedly filled with a lot of irate passengers between Paoli and Overbrook who were squeezed into the 2 car trains like sardines.

  • NEXT STOP ON THE BOONDOGGLE EXPRESS ... BROAD & MARKET Philadelphia (via Norristown) Mayor/Emperor John Street has apparently changed his tune on the City of Philadelphia's position on the Schuylkill Valley corridor. Jere Downs reports in today's Inquirer that Emperor Street recently spoke with Greater Philadelphia First's lame duck leader (and Emperor Street's possible opponent next year) Sam Katz and SEPTA's very own "Fearless Leader". Apparently, Lame Duck and Fearless Leader have convinced Emperor Street of the benefits of the $2 billion boondoggle. This can be interpreted as a sign that:

  • Emperor Street seems to think that SEPTA's glorified trolley plan will actually benefit the city
  • Emperor Street still has a soft spot for his native Norristown and really wants to see the borough succeed (even if Norristown Mayor Ted LeBlanc is a dead ringer for WIP's public idiot #1 Howard Eskin)
  • Emperor Street is starting to see the writing on the wall from the Republicans in Harrisburg to start playing along or endure more political embarassments (see: Parking Authority, School District of Philadelphia, Convention Center), or
  • Emperor Street has been getting bad advice from his policy makers at Broad and Market, which wouldn't be much of a shock.

  • The Inquirer article also notes that while Emperor Street's change of heart on Schuylkill Valley could increase the boondoggle's chances in Washington and Harrisburg, the wild cards in this matter are the continued luke warm reactions from Bucks County and Delaware County. Bucks County seems to have two advantages to turn the tide in favor of Schuylkill Valley: (1) SEPTA Board Chairman/Radio Impresarior/Turnpike Commissioner/Land Developer Extraordinaire and All-Around Arrogant Tyrant Pasquale T. Deon Sr. seems to be SEPTA's second biggest cheerleader for the MetroRail boondoggle (behind Fearless Leader, natch); (2) Gov. Really Lame Duck (Mark Schwieker) - a Lower Bucks native - is the new president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, which is planning to merge with GPF, which is one of the biggest SVM boosters; and (3) Bucks County stands to see more boondoggle bucks if and when the Cross County MetroRail boondoggle ($1.2 billion and counting) is ever built.

    Meanwhile, I wouldn't expect Delaware County to suddenly become enthusiastic over Schuylkill Valley anytime soon. Even though a P&W extension to King of Prussia would obstensively benefit Delaware County, the entire project would be built in Montgomery County. Plus, the extension of the R3 Elwyn line to Wawa (the now inactive station located on US 1 in Chester Heights) has seemingly been pushed to the back-burner, as has potential further restoration to West Chester. No offense to Delaware County's two board members - Tom Babcock and Tom Killion, both of whom seem to have the best interest of their consituencies - but where's Wally Nunn when you need him? I highly doubt MetroRail would even be on the radar screen for either Cross County or Schuylkill Valley if Nunn were still active within the SEPTA Board.

    Long story short, at a time when property taxes are skyrocketing within Philadelphia, Emperor Street couldn't have picked a worse message to send to most city residents (save for those in the Manayunk area, where the SVM would operate) that the city is behind a $2 billion boondoggle that would mainly benefit Berks and Montgomery Counties (and have a token impact on Chester County).

  • CONSTRUCTION CONTROVERSY A pair of West Philadelphia based community advocacy groups protested outside Emperor Street's offices yesterday in response to a lack of minority hiring at publicly funded construction projects within the city. "Enough Is Enough" and "Hands On Coalition" were the two groups responsible for disrupting construction at the 60 St El Station on Wednesday. An injunction was issued by a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge prohibiting the two groups from disrupting construction. Although SEPTA has made good-faith efforts in hiring minorities - specifically residents in the West Philadelphia area - for the Market Street El Reconstruction Project, organizers have threatened to disrupt other publicly funded construction projects, including SEPTA projects.
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