Friday, February 28, 2003

  • OUT OF TOUCH? If anyone thought that some SEPTA Board members were completely out of touch with the riding public, then State Sen. Stuart Greenleaf (R-12) proved that point. In today's editions of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Greenleaf was asked about complaints from commuters regarding the recent performance decline on the Regional Rail system:

    "Except for a union representative who comes to our meetings all the time and usually beats up on us," [Greenleaf] had heard little complaining from the public.

    Oh. So, if Sen. Greenleaf hasn't heard too many complaints from his constituents, then SEPTA must be doing a good job, right? Umm, no. Incidentially, the "union representative" Greenleaf is trashing is Tom Dorricott of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, who, in a perfect world, deserves to be in charge of the Railroad Division (he can't do any worse than the bozos in charge now). Apparently, Sen. Greenleaf seems to have a better grasp on the issues affecting employees in the Railroad Division than the head of one of their largest unions. Then again, I highly doubt that Dorricott would take Greenleaf's senate seat when a major issues affects his district, which covers the Willow Grove, Horsham Twp, and Hatboro areas.

    One does have to question Greenleaf's true dedication to his duties on the SEPTA Board, as over the past few years, he has been known to participate by telephone - from the Bahamas (I don't recall exactly which board meeting it was, but I do recall him calling in from there a few years ago). That may have happened only a handful of times, but still, it's enough to question his dedication to the job.

    Meanwhile, an unnamed board member refuted Greenleaf's idiotic statements in the same Inquirer article:

    But another longtime board member, who asked that his name not be used, said he thought service on the commuter rail lines had been deteriorating for the last couple of years.

    "I worked there when [former SEPTA chief David] Gunn was there," this member said, referring to the early 1980s. "He was a take-charge guy who imbued that place with spirit. One of his favorite management statements was if you find a problem, the worst thing you can do is nothing. We've sort of lost that. People are not willing to step up. I don't know if it's a malaise, or they say, 'Hey, that's not my job.' Some of the infrastructure is fragile and old. But the communications problems, that's inexcusable."

    Far be it for me to blow this board member's cover - intentionally or otherwise - but I have a feeling that the board member in question may be Robert Wooten, the gubernatorial appointee to the SEPTA Board who was originally appointed by Gov. Ridge in 1997 as sort of a consolation prize for not being named General Manager, or so the story goes. Please note that this has not been confirmed or denied by any source, but it is simply a guess based on what I know about the background of some board members. The reason I suspect it may be Wooten is because he was reportedly working for SEPTA during this time (again, this is second hand info that I haven't confirmed independently) up until 1997. Wooten applied for the General Manager's position which had been vacated by Lou Gambacinni and subsequently filled by Jack Leary. When Leary was hired, Wooten was reportedly appointed to the SEPTA Board by Ridge, and the rest is history.

    On an somewhat related note, it appears that Jim Whitaker has been serving as the chief spokesman for SEPTA over the past few weeks. That, all things considered, isn't really a bad thing, since Whitaker has more professionalism in his right pinky finger than Richard Maloney has in his entire body...

  • NO TRAILS IN UPPER SOUTHAMPTON SEPTA made a surprising move as far as those advocating the restoration of rail service on the Newtown Branch are concerned. SEPTA recently told officials in Upper Southampton Township that they will not cede the existing right-of-way for this project. According to the Courier-Times, SEPTA wants to maintain control of the right-of-way in order to make it available in the event the line is reactivated. However, a Lower Moreland Township supervisor has expressed interest in converting its section of the Newtown Branch into a rail trail. Bear in mind that most of the opposition to rail restoration to Newtown via Fox Chase is centered around the Lower Moreland/Bryn Athyn area.

  • NEW TRANSIT HUB IN STORE? Officials in Newark, Del. are in the early stages of proposing a new transit hub within the city that would link DART First State, the University of Delaware Shuttle system, and the city's UniCity system. If all goes according to plan, the $2 million hub (half of the cost would be for land acquisition; the other half for actual construction) would be located on the abandoned Pomeroy Railroad right-of-way, located at Main St and Delaware Av in Newark. The State of Delaware is expected to cover most - if not all - of the costs.

  • NEW BOSS AT DRPA New Jersey State Sen. John Matthussen of Gloucester County was appointed by Gov. McGreevey to serve as CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority, the parent agency of the PATCO Hi-Speed Line. Matthussen replaces Paul Drayton, who was appointed CEO during the end of the Florio administration. Former Atlantic City Mayor James Whelan was also considered a candidate for the position, and was recommended by Gov. Rendell. However, New Jersey gets to name the vice chairman and CEO of the DRPA, while Pennsylvania names the board's chairman.
  • Wednesday, February 26, 2003

  • YET MORE TRAIN TROUBLES There were minor delays (there's an oxymoron) on PRR side Regional Rail lines this afternoon due to a disabled train at Market East. The 1:22pm R2 to Wilmington (#9235, EMU #344/345) lost power on #3 track shortly after arriving at Market East from Roberts Yard and Temple University station. Several trains, including the 1:25pm R1 Airport train and other trains which normally use #3 track, were delayed. The passengers on #9235 were taken off that train and put onto the arriving R6 from Norristown (which was supposed to go out of service at Powelton Yard). Of course, it's not like SEPTA is willing to let the public know about these things, right?

  • NOT EVERY LINE CHANGES In addition to the "temporary bustitution" of the 29, here are some of the highlights of the February schedule change:

    • ROUTE 1 will see the seasonal return of the extra PM peak and late night trips from the IRS Center, in time for the heavy employment season
    • ROUTE 14 will see a new 2:22pm weekday departure from Neshaminy Mall (so SEPTA can keep slipping these extra trips to and from Neshaminy and Oxford Valley, but they can't make reasonable schedule improvements so PM reverse peak riders on the 104 from West Chester aren't squeezed in like sardines?)
    • ROUTES 21 and 42 will see time adjustments due to the closing of Chestnut St between 5 and 6 Sts
    • ROUTES 24 and 28 are now part of the bike route network, meaning all trips will be covered with the 5500 series New Flyers
    • ROUTES 27 and 32 now reflect the rerouting off of S 15 St and onto S Broad
    • ROUTE 28 will see time adjustments due to the detour off of Rhawn St in Fox Chase
    • ROUTE 38 will see a new 8:41am departure from Presidential Blvd and Winding Way to Center City
    • In addition, there are time adjustments on the subway surface lines, however that doesn't neccesarily mean added service (it usually never does)
    • These routes will continue to operate under the September timetables: 5, 6, 8, 15, 19, 39, 46, 47m, 52, 53, 54, 63, 64, 73, 76/SPREE (though, in a couple months, it'll probably be a moot point), 77, 79, 80, 121, and 316/LUCY.
  • SEPTA POLICE SUIT As if the ongoing contract negotiations weren't bad enough for the image of the SEPTA Police department, 6 black police officers - including the son of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson - filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against SEPTA in U.S. District Court. According to the Daily News, the six officers claim to have been subjected to racial epitaths from commanding officers, assignments to zone offices further away from their homes compared to other officers, and unfair disciplinary actions. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 109 (aka the Fraternal Order of Transit Police) is supporting the officer's law suit. Sounds like the next lodge meeting will be very interesting...
  • Monday, February 24, 2003

  • SCHEDULES CHANGE Schedules for most City Division routes changed on Sunday. The major highlight of the new picking is the "temporary" conversion of the 29 from trackless operation to diesel bus for the next four years. As part of the 29's conversion, service will be extended from Front and Tasker to Pier 70. This may very well spell the end of the line for trackless service along Tasker and Morris in South Philly. This may also mark the beginning of the end of trackless trolleys on the 79 as well, but nothing has been said about the 79's status. Other major highlights will be posted within the next few days (I am presently in the process of moving for the first time in three years, so updates may be sporadic).
  • Tuesday, February 18, 2003

  • WHAT A MESS Depending on where you live in the Tri-State area, transit service either was severely curtailed or cancelled due to the blizzard:

  • DART First State was not operating at all on Monday (there's no scheduled service on Sundays) and Tuesday, due to a state of emergency declared by Gov. Minner on Sunday which was lifted early Tuesday morning. However, DelDOT reported numerous abandoned vehicles along DART service territory, particularly in the City of Wilmington (where a state of emergency was still in effect as of mid-day Tuesday) forced the buses to be idled for a second day.
  • NJ Transit bus service in South Jersey (including Mercer County) was suspended until early Tuesday morning. Service in South Jersey is running normally, however delays can be expected.
  • SEPTA is a collosal mess, as you can expect. On the Railroad side, the R6 Cynwyd line is not operating at all due to the poor weather conditions (much to the dismay of Fearless Leader, who lives in the Wynnefield area, if I'm not mistaken). The R2 Marcus Hook/Wilmington line is not operating into Delaware, partially due to the weather conditions and the fact that DART is not operating. The R5 Paoli/Thorndale line is not operating beyond Malvern (which does me no favors, since I have to get to work in Downingtown later tonight, and would rather endure a three hour lecture in ethics from Richard Maloney and Patrick Nowakowski than even think about dealing with Krapf's). Apparently, Amtrak is operating Keystone service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia (my roommate was able to book a reservation to Minneapolis via Chicago for today), but SEPTA can't run trains to Thorndale?
  • The P&W and Media/Sharon Hill trolleys were idled on Monday. Service on the 101 and 102 resumed on Tuesday, however the P&W remains out of service. However, the subway-surface lines were running as scheduled, except for the 36, which is currenly shuttling between the Elmwood Carhouse and Penrose Plaza. The El and Broad Street Subways were also running fairly normal service, however during the height of the storm, buses were used between Fern Rock and Olney. All trains are running as locals, with not A/B skip stop on the El or Express trains on the Broad Street Line.
  • On the bus side of things, service within the City of Chester was suspended due to poor road conditions on Monday. Most of the other routes were operating, but with major delays (though I don't think I saw a single 104 bus operating at all in the evening).
  • As of Tuesday, the 120 was not operating to Cheyney (which wouldn't have mattered anyway, since the campus was closed for the day). Depending on whether you believe SEPTA or SmarTravler, the 5, 8, 19, 29, and 35 are either on detour (SmarTravler) or not operating at all (SEPTA). In addition, the SEPTA web site reports that "a number of City and Suburban Transit Division bus routes operating on local detours" (emphasis added). Fine, but which routes? It is next to impossible to get through to the Travel Mis-Information Center, so you think SEPTA could be just a little less lazy and a little more specific?
    With most of the clean-up complete, SEPTA should return to somewhat normal service by tomorrow, but somehow I doubt it.

  • FORDS DAYS ARE NUMBERED SEPTA has released an RFP for the purchase of 28 27-foot cutaway buses, with an option for up to 14 more, meaning that the junkers at Frontier and other contract operators will be gone by the end of the year - we hope... A pre-proposal meeting was scheduled for today, however that might not be happening due to the mess that SEPTA's system is due to the weather. Bids will be accepted until March 7, with SEPTA Board approval expected by April or May. This could mean that the Fords will be gone by the end of the summer, depending on when the buses are built.

  • MORE BIKE RACKS SEPTA is planning to purchase 500 bike racks to be installed on the NABIs and the 5400-series New Flyers. The contracts will be awarded at next week's SEPTA Board meeting.

  • TROLLEY TROUBLES During the height of what would normally be the AM peak, two trolleys collided in the tunnel near 30 St. A 13 car en route to Yeadon rear ended an Overbrook bound 10 car just past 30 St Station at 7:45am. KYW 3 reports that 12 people were taken to area hospitals and treated for minor bumps and bruises. As a result, the subway surface lines were on diversion until 8:30am.
  • Friday, February 14, 2003

  • WASHINGTON TO THE RESCUE SEPTA will be getting some valentines in the form of federal funding from the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-6) and Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-13) secured $9 million in federal funds for the Schuylkill Valley project (though I have to wonder if they know what they're getting into). SEPTA also secured $5.57 million in funding for its successful access to jobs reverse-commute program. On a somewhat related note, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-16) managed to secure $1 million for the Berks Area Reading Transportation Authority (BARTA) earmarked for fleet replacement (specifically, the retirement of the Orion I bus fleet); Pitts' district now includes a small portion of Berks County, including part of the City of Reading. There may be more transportation funding on the way once the Senate approves appropriation bills, according to flacks for Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum (both R-Pa.).

  • MORE BUSES FOR CHESCO The good news for residents in the Parkesburg and West Sadsbury Twp area is that there will be new bus service starting March 3. The bad news is that the service will be operated by Krapf's. The service, known as the Coatesville Link West will connect the Parkesburg area with the city of Coatesville and their Coatesville Link service, which serves Coatesville, South Coatesville, Modena, and the northwestern edges of Caln Twp (though there's no convenient service to the Thorndale Rail Station, which would dramatically improve connections to the Coatesville area). The Coatesville Link West would serve downtown Parkesburg and the West Sadsbury Commons Shopping Center, where Chester County's first Wal-Mart opened last May. Coatesville Link West is managed in part by the City of Coatesville and the TMA of Chester County. Now, this may be asking too much, but I would expect that one of these days, TMACC will actually enter into a fare agreement with SEPTA to allow TransPasses and TrailPasses to be accepted as valid fare, but as long as Krapf's continues to provide substandard service between the West Chester and Coatesville areas, then I don't see that happening anytime soon.

  • RAIL RELIEF AT LAST The Rail Power Project will continue over the next two weekends, however, service will operate somewhat normally through the Center City tunnel, as work will now focus on the inner tracks in the tunnel, allowing for rail service to operate between 30 Street and Market East. Delays could be expected over the next two weekends, however, full rail service will continue for the first two weekends of March due to the Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (notice the name, Emperor Street: PENNSYLVANIA Convention Center). Starting with the weekend of March 15 and until the end of June, the R2 Marcus Hook, R5 Paoli Thorndale, R7 Trenton, and R8 Chestnut Hill West will terminate at the lower (Amtrak) level of 30 Street Station, the R3 Media Elwyn will terminate at University City, and the R1 Airport Line will return to shuttle bus service for the remainder of the project.
  • Wednesday, February 12, 2003

  • NJT EXEC FACES ETHICS RAP A high ranking Vice President at New Jersey Transit is facing charges involving gratuities and official misconduct following an investigation by the New Jersey Office of Government Inegrity and an idictment by a state grand jury. The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Maureen Milan, Vice President and General Manager for Bus and Light Rail Operations, was hit with a 14 count indictment that includes charges of official misconduct, unlawful benefits for official behavior, and receipt for a gratuity by a state employee (links are to the New Jersey state statutes where available).
  • HERE WE GO AGAIN... KYW 1060 reported yet another problem on the Regional Rail this morning. At around 10:00am, an auxiliary wire broke, causing "minor" delays of between 15 to 20 minutes on the railroad. The news reports have not identified where the wire problems occured, but the word "minor" is used in comparison to Monday and Tuesday.

  • RAIL FIASCO FOLLOW-UP It turns out that the wire problems between 30 Street and Suburban stations were not the only overhead catenary problems on the Regional Rail last night. At around 6:00pm, there were reports of a downed wire in the small tunnel connecting 30 Street Station with University City, affecting R2 Marcus Hook and R3 Elwyn trains. The R1 Airport line was still using shuttle buses by this time. Gee, how nice of SEPTA to alert the people of Delaware County about these problems; they thought they could sneak this one by since all of the attention was focused on the problems on the 22 Street viaduct.

    As for the trains themselves, in addition to the R1 Airport line shuttle buses and the diversion of R6 Cynwyd passengers to the R5 Paoli line (and a connecting shuttle at Overbrook), the Glenside branch trains (R2 Warminster, R3 West Trenton, R5 Lansdale, and one would presume the R1 trains that originate at Glenside) terminated at Fern Rock; the R6 Norristown, R7 Chestnut Hill East, and R8 Fox Chase ran as far as Market East. R2 Marcus Hook/Wilmington and R7 Trenton trains were able to use the lower level of 30th Street, but not the R5 Paoli/Thorndale. R5 Paoli/Thorndale riders were forced to change to a shuttle bus at Overbrook, then transfer to the El at 69 Street Terminal (never mind that Amtrak could've made more space available to allow Paoli Line riders a more direct shot into Philadelphia).

    The only advice given by SEPTA to riders on the R3 Elwyn, R5 Paoli/Thorndale and R8 Chestnut Hill West riders were to "seek alternate means of transportation" (read: drive or stay home). Here's a silly thought: SEPTA could've just told people to get off at North Philadelphia and take the C bus or Broad Street Line (or even, heaven forbid, a shuttle bus) to City Hall. Another shuttle should've been set up between Center City and University City to connect with the R3 Elwyn. For most of the day, shuttle buses were used on the R3 Elwyn line, including (if you can believe this) ElDorados from Red Arrow. Sure, use 30 foot buses on one of the busier rail lines for a shuttle, that makes a lot of sense. It also explains why there was a bit of a shortage at Red Arrow yesterday, though the problem has been ongoing there due to some frozen lines on some of the buses...

    But, of course, given Fearless Leader's penny pinching ways and lack of actual leadership as it pertains to running a transit system (instead of taking orders from the Oxford Valley/Norristown Mob faction that runs the board), you can certainly expect incompetence and a raspberry to Regional Rail riders in the western suburbs.

  • MORE PROBLEMS ON THE RAILS According to some reliable sources at Frazer Yard, SEPTA has been having some maintenance problems with it's push-pull trains. Electric engine #2308 (the ALP-44 "given" to SEPTA following the N-5 car fiasco on the P&W) has had major maintenace issues. My source tells me that the 2308 has been in the shop almost like clockwork "every two weeks" for quite some time. But wait, there's more... The Bombardier coaches used on the push-pull trains - and maintained primarily at Frazer Yard - have started to suffer major problems as well. The Bombardiers have been known to leak fluids, the source reported, and that maintenance has been stymied, most likely by incompetent management (take a bow, AGM for Operations Patrick Nowakowski, for not lobbying for someone with real railroad experience in charge of the RRD). Remember, this is the same management that fleeced 10 center-door Bombardier coaches from PennDOT under the guise of "added train service", but really only added cars to the trains and stole a push-pull set from the Paoli line and sent it to onto the Trenton line (not to mention the one push-pull train on the Warminster line, which makes little sense given the relatively short spacing and lower speeds of that line), while degrading the quality of equipment on the Paoli line (where passengers tend not to take to kindly to the smallest inconvenience even more so than any other line in the system).

  • ONE STEP BEHIND... As if the problems on the railroad aren't a slap in the face to SEPTA, then there's the matter of SEPTA's preparedness in the event of a catastrophic attack. The Daily News reports that, unlike the rest of the country, SEPTA has not officially activated Condition Orange as recommended by the Office of Homeland Security. The Daily News also notes that there's been a contract dispute between the union representing SEPTA Transit Police officers and SEPTA management as SEPTA Transit Police officers have been working without a contract since the end of September. (Note to self: Why don't we just tell our enemies that we're not in step with the rest of the country when it comes to emergency preparedness?)

  • MONEY PROBLEMS ON THE HORIZON? In the same Daily News article, it was noted that SEPTA could run a deficit as high as $41 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. This raises the question, "Huh?" At the December Board Meeting, SEPTA reported a $1.1 million surplus after subsidies for the first six months of the current fiscal year. Either someone at SEPTA is deliberately giving out false numbers to the press, or the same folks who gave us the Enron and Adelphia scandals are now managing the books at SEPTA. In fairness, though, Treasurer Joe Casey is more upfront with the public than Fearless Leader, so I'm sure this was a management ploy to shame FOP 109 and to justify the lack of "Condition Orange" within SEPTA. Then again, the $41 million figure came from the FOP spokesman, so I'm not sure he's telling the whole story.

  • 5600s UPDATE On a happier note, the 5613-5712 series New Flyers are now starting to trickle into the Berridge Shops. This will mean the start of a massive bus move within the next couple of weeks. 5471 and 5472, which were at Midvale for use as training buses, are now back at Southern. Most of the 3000-3131 series of Neoplans should be off the property by the end of the summer, though a few could still linger at Callowhill (for use on the 15 before the rehabbed PCCs arrive), Comly (mainly for use on school trippers), and Frankford (for use on the 59, 66, and 75 bus-titution).
  • Tuesday, February 11, 2003

  • ANOTHER RAIL FIASCO For the second time in as many days, SEPTA Regional Rail service was severely impacted due to downed wires between 30 St and Suburban stations. The incident occured at 8:15am, right when the bulk of commuters are arriving on the Regional Rail system into Center City. Most passengers were forced to use other modes, including the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines. Repairs were completed by 3:00pm, however, the R1 Airport and R6 Cynwyd lines were not running trains. Shuttle buses were in place for the R1 Airport line, while R6 Cynwyd passengers were diverted to Overbrook (R5 Paoli-Thorndale) to transfer to shuttle buses. There's no word as to whether or not these problems were related to the Rail Power Project or not. All other lines were operating on "special" schedules, which of course are not posted on the SEPTA web site. On the R5, most - if not all - express trains to Thorndale during the PM peak were operating as locals. I would expect a lot of angry phone calls from the Main Line tomorrow morning.

  • BUS SHORTAGES ... AGAIN It's usually not a good omen when 3421 - normally a Callowhill bus - starts appearing on routes in the suburbs. Such was the case today as 3421 appeared on the 4:30pm 111 to Chadds Ford. To make things worse, the 4:35pm 104 West Chester Express was delayed nearly 15 minutes because of bus problems. For starters, 3381 arrived at 69 Street Terminal 5 minutes late. Instead of going into service on the 4:35pm to West Chester, 3381 went back to the yard due to mechanical problems. Apparently, there were no other buses available, since 3381 ended up covering the 4:35pm 104 trip, leaving at 4:48pm, just a minute or two before the 4:50pm 104 Newtown Square Corporate Campus departure. Never mind that at least two more buses went back to the yard before 3381 returned, so either of those buses probably could've been put out there instead of 3381.
  • Monday, February 10, 2003

  • RAILROAD SHUT DOWN All Regional Rail lines were halted during the height of the morning commute due to a suspicious briefcase found at Market East Station. The briefcase, which was later determined to be empty, was discovered by a station employee at around 6:30am. Rail service to Market East resumed at 7:45am, however, all Regional Rail lines were delayed significantly due to the incident.
  • Saturday, February 08, 2003

  • ON BROAD STREET... The southbound 27 and 32 buses are now operating along Broad Street instead of 15 Street. The move to Broad, which took effect a few weeks ago, was made due to "severe traffic congestion" along 15 Street. This move actually makes sense in that now riders from Roxborough (27, 32), Manayunk (27), and North Philadelphia (32) will have a direct southbound link to Broad Street attractions. That, coupled with avoiding the traffic on S 15 Street should improve the reliability of the 27 (though, if the city's plan to cut the 27 back to Locust Street instead of Washington Avenue is approved by SEPTA, then it's a moot point for 27 riders), as well as the 32.

  • SPEAKING OF THE 27... During the snowstorm yesterday, the 27 was detoured along Ridge Avenue instead of what was to have been the posted detour along Henry Avenue. Thus, upper Ridge Avenue through Roxborough saw the regularly routed 9 and detoured 27 and 35 buses, while Henry Avenue saw little to no service at all. On a related note, most buses were running yesterday, however during the AM peak, some suburban routes were running upwards to an hour late. The 133 scheduled to depart from King of Prussia at 6:00am and arrive in West Chester as a 92 shortly after 7:00am (6016 block) was nearly an hour late due to poor road conditions, particularly along King Road and Phoenixville Pike.

  • LOWER MERION'S WISH LIST Legislators representing The People's Republic of Lower Merion met with the township's Board of Omissioners recently to discuss securing funding for serveral projects in the township. Among the top items on the wish list is a new transportation center in the Ardmore district of the township. Two public meetings are scheduled for the proposed center, which would replace the current Ardmore Rail Station. An "ideas workshop" will be held on March 26, and a "design workshop" will be held on April 30 (locations for both to be determined).

  • OOPS, HE DID IT AGAIN... Our favorite arrogant Bucks County pol is once again tossing his influence around, as if that were a shock. According to Daily News columnist Gar Joseph, SEPTA Board Chairman/Radio Impresario/Turnpike Commissioner/Land Developer Extraordinaire (now you can add former Convention Center Board member) Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. was reportedly behind the naming of Al Mezzaroba as CEO of the Convention Center, with an assist from State Sen. Vincent Fumo (D-South Philadelphia). It's a very odd move on Deon's part, since Mezzaroba is a city Democrat. Then again, when one of your closest allies is the Hon. Lame Duck Mark Schweiker and the co-owner of your radio station is one Merrill Reese, you can pretty much do whatever you want.
  • Thursday, February 06, 2003

  • SIT ON THIS... SEPTA has recently issued an expression of intersted to prospective bidders on replacing the comfortable cushioned seats on the M-4 Market-Frankford cars with "stainless steel passenger seats with plastic inserts." SEPTA is accepting such letters until February 18. That should give passengers enough time to revolt...

  • LOOKING FOR NEW HOMES SEPTA is also seeking to solicit bids for the removal of 13 PCC cars presently stored at Luzerne or Elmwood. The cars planned for sale include: 2092, 2098, 2105, 2111, 2117, 2150, 2159, 2163, 2704, 2712, 2713, 2716, and 2780. SEPTA is targeting transit systems, museums, and civic associations for this expression of interest, which will be accepted until March 4.
  • Monday, February 03, 2003

  • FORDS DAYS ARE NUMBERED At least four cutaway buses are off the road and being prepared for retirement as we speak. 2015 and 2018, which spent their entire lives at Germantown on TPC operations, are now in dead storage at the Courtland shops (this is the complex behind the Berridge Shops on 3 St). Though I haven't officially confirmed this yet, the original cutaway buses (2001, 2002, and 2004) may be out of service as well. At Frontier, at least two Fords are listed as out of service - 2030 and 2036 (2033 should've been taken out of service months ago, since the steering on that bus is pathetic; this observation is based on riding 2033 regularly on the 92/133). That's the good news. The bad news is that there is still no word on replacing the Fords. (On a related note, a quick observation of Berridge showed no 5600s on the property yet. I'd imagine they're due on SEPTA property within the next week, but I've been saying that for a while now.)

  • PARADE? WHAT PARADE? Many passengers who were unaware of the annual Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown were in for a shock, as apparently SEPTA didn't know about the parade either. There was no detours posted at the SEPTA web site (now people traveling to the City can understand what we in West Chester endure from SEPTA every time the borough shuts down Gay and/or Market Streets due to a parade or street festival or something). This had a major impact on the Rail Power Shuttles, as there was nearly a 15 minute stretch between buses around 4:00pm. A railroad supervisor asked for the "4:19pm" R5 to Malvern to be held a few minutes to allow the shuttles enough time to get to 30 Street Station. The train in question, #62547, leaves for Malvern at 4:49pm, but what's a half hour difference? Some R1 Airport shuttles actually turned reached Market East via 12 and Filbert Streets instead of Arch and 10 Streets because of the heavy congestion.

  • SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION Your intrepid webmaster's letter to the editor regarding Richard Maloney's lies about the infamous switching problems on the Paoli line two weeks ago was published today (you have to scroll down to the second letter on the linked page).
  • Saturday, February 01, 2003

  • SUBWAY BY THE NUMBERS SEPTA recently issued a glowing press release touting the increased number of passengers using the Broad Street Subway to attend Iggles games at the Sports Complex over the past season. SEPTA reported 84,500 passengers using the Pattison station througout the 2002 season, with 12,983 passengers using the Broad Street Subway for the final Iggles game at the Vet two weeks ago (we're sure this doesn't report the number of people injured jumping off the bandwagon following the 27-10 choke job by the Birds, a loss which effectively ended Andy Reid's honeymoon with Iggles Nation). The 84,500 passengers is up 41 percent from last season's total of 58,620. The ridership count for the previous week's Iggles/Falcons NFC Division Game totalled 9,700 passengers, although passengers returning from that game were in a decidedly better mood (that is until station personnel decided to send local trains right before the express trains). With the reduced capacity at Lincoln Finanical Field next season (I believe there are about 3,000 fewer seats at the new field than at the Vet), don't expect your webmaster to be among those attending Iggles games for a while (though the rumored high ticket prices may also have something to do with it).