Wednesday, April 30, 2003

  • JERSEY ADVENTURES NJ Transit restarted service to the Six Flags/Great Adventure park in Jackson Twp earlier this month. In addition to the Saturday/Sunday/holiday service along the 318 line from the Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal and Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden, NJT also introduced a new Route 310, which connects Great Adventure with the Trenton Rail Station. The 310 will operate Thursday through Sunday only, at least through May 9. Two other routes which were added within the past two years - the 307 from Freehold and 309 from Toms River/Lakewood - are also back in service for the summer season. The 307 operates daily service, while the 309 only operates Thursday through Sunday. Also new on the 307 this year is the addition of two AM from Rova Farms and two PM trips to Rova Farms to provide connections with the 317 to and from Philadelphia.
  • QUESTIONABLE POLLING If you thought that SEPTA was getting a little ridiculous in some of its surveys, then you should read this article in today's Daily News. Some commuters along the R8 Chestnut Hill West line were less than thrilled about being asked their age, gender, and race, among other personal items. On the surface, according to the article, it gives the impression that SEPTA might (operative word being might) be using race and other factors in deciding which services to cut. (Remember, this is the Daily News we're talking about, and they're not exactly the most moderate newspaper in the country...) Apparently, SEPTA's Minister of Dis-Information and Lies Richard Maloney took exception to that accusation:

    "I'm almost appalled that you asked the question. Absolutely not."

    Come to think of it, I'm almost appalled that this moron still has a job with SEPTA, since he has the credibility of Michael Moore (the biggest lying fraud to disgrace the movie industry), but that's another story.

    In addition to the R8, the other three rail lines on the chopping block (the R1 Airport, R2 Warminster, and R6 Cynwyd) and several bus routes - the C, 19, 31, 37, and 123 - are also targeted as part of the survey. Gee, why doesn't SEPTA focus it's survey on some of the other lines which are in danger of being cut, such as the 35, 77, 92, 128, and 133? Come to think of it, how did the 37 end up on the endangered list? Did I miss something here?

  • MORE MARKET ST CONROVERSY Ronnie Polaneczky's Daily News column reports that community leaders along Market St in West Philadelphia are planning to show up in force at a Philadelphia City Council meeting next Wednesday to take SEPTA to task over the massive Market St El reconstruction project. At issue is the closing of Market St between 43 and 63 Sts, which some residents claim has been an open invitation to crime. The pastor of Christian Faith Baptist Church at 60 and Market Sts had been burglarized twice since the construction project began - the first burglaries since he became pastor nearly a decade ago. Other community leaders are calling for a boycott of SEPTA until the agency starts becoming more responsive to the community. Great, yet another wonderful accomplishment in the miserable administration of Fearless Leader, who has seemingly made SEPTA even less sensitive to the public than Jack Leary ever did - and that's saying a hell of a lot...
  • Tuesday, April 29, 2003

  • GIRARD AVENUE TROUBLES An early morning water main break along the Girard Avenue Bridge over I-76 and Kelly Drive caused havoc both for motorists and 15 riders. As of late this afternoon, the 15 was still detouring off of Girard between 33 and 34 Sts. The interesting thing is that SEPTA has made no mention of it on its web site (despite the fact that the 15 is a fairly important crosstown line), but the Smartravler site does have detour info posted. On the flip side, Smartravler makes no mention of the 11 bus bridge between Darby Loop and Woodland/Island, but the SEPTA web site mentions it, however you'd have to look pretty closely for it.
  • Monday, April 28, 2003

  • CHURCHMANS CROSSING CLOSING DART First State informed its customers that the R2 will not stop at Fairplay/Churchman's Crossing Station between May 12 and June 6 due to Amtrak track tie replacement. DART is operating a shuttle bus between Churchman's Crossing and Wilmington during the station closing. Interesting how DART has no problem accomodating inconvenience passengers while SEPTA can't even provide minimal bus service for R3 passengers between West Trenton and Trevose.

  • EL SHUTDOWN THIS WEEKEND The Market Frankford El will operate a bus bridge this weekend between Spring Garden and Frankford due to track work on the east end of the El. The usual local/express set-up will be in place, with local service operating between Spring Garden and Bridge-Pratt and express service via I-95 between 15 St/City Hall and Bridge-Pratt with a stop at Bridge and Torresdale. This might explain why there's no Rail Power Project shuttle buses this weekend.
  • MESSY DAY IN NICETOWN Several bus routes experienced delays through the Nicetown section of Philadelphia due to a police investigation at Hunting Park and Erie. A juvenile male allegedly stole a school bus owned by All City Transportation from a parking lot at 7 St and Roosevelt Blvd. During the chase, the suspect allegedly struck a woman at the intersection of Broad and Hunting Park. The chase ended at around 11:45am, when the suspect crashed the school bus into a wall at Yelland and Hunting Park. The suspect will be charged with auto theft, aggravated assault, simple assault, possession of an instrument of crime, fleeing police, and numerous violations of the motor vehicle code. Let's hope this punk is tried as an adult and further hope he has his preliminary hearing in front of Judge Seamus McCaffery.

    As far as how this impacted SEPTA service: The accident investigation forced police to close off Hunting Park between Erie and 21 Sts. As a result, the 1, H, R, and XH were forced to detour off of Erie onto 23 St and Venango before returning to their normal routings. Service was also delayed on the 33 and 56, as buses were stopped for several minutes at a time; many buses pulling in and out from Midvale en route to Olney and points along Broad Street were also delayed, as they were also caught in the Hunting Park quagmire.

  • CITY AVENUE PROBLEMS Ongoing construction of the City Av bridge over the Amtrak Keystone Branch/R5 Paoli Thorndale line is making life miserable for operators on the 65. Buses en route to 69 St Terminal have been running as much as 20 minutes late due to the heavy congestion between 59 St and 63 St (as was the case with 5212 block today, which was supposed to arrive at 69 St Terminal at 3:25pm before departing as the 3:40pm to Germantown; 5212 block reached 69 St at 3:45pm, and departed 5 minutes later). The sooner they complete this reconstruction, the happier commuters will be.

  • NEW RAIL SCHEDULES MAY 5 The new Regional Rail timetables will take effect on Monday, May 5. As expected, shuttle buses will replace train service on the R6 Cynwyd due to the last phase of the RRD Rail Power Project. In addition, some peak hour service has been adjusted on most of the lines, with the R5 Paoli Thorndale losing some limited trains (some Thorndale trains are now express to/from Bryn Mawr instead of Wayne). More details will be posted (hopefully) soon. On the bright side, R3 service has been fully restored between Trevose and West Trenton as of this morning. Service north of Trevose had been suspended for several days due to a CSX derailment.

  • QUESTIONABLE ACCOUNTING? The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reports that there may be some discrepancies in how part of the Pennsylvania Public Transit Assistance Fund (generally referred to as Act 26 funding) may be collected. According to the Tribune-Democrat, Pennsylvania motorists must pay two separate fees for every tire purchased in the Commonwealth. One fee is supposed to go towards tire disposal and enviromental cleanup, however that can vary from between $2.00 to $4.00 depending on what part of the state you purchase tires. The second fee - a $1.00 fee in addition to the enviromental fee - is collected as part of Act 26 funding, which also includes motor vehicle leasing taxes and rental fees among other sources - is consolidated into a single payment to the PTAF from the Commonwealth's Treasury. SEPTA recieves 70 percent of statewide Act 26 funding, with the majority of the remainder (approximately 20-25 percent) allocated to the Port Authority of Allegheny County, leaving the smaller systems to split the remainder of the Act 26 funding. Based on the article, it appears possible that some tire fees may or may not be properly collected. Officials at PennDOT, the Commonwealth Treasurer's office, and the Department of Enviromental Protection (which supposedly recieves the $2.00-4.00 fee for enviromental cleanup) were unable to explain how exactly the revenues from the tire fees were accounted for. It does make one wonder if the Act 26 related tire fees may be underreported by the Department of Revenue or by PennDOT.
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2003

  • ANOTHER RAIL FIASCO And now, for the monthly fiasco on SEPTA's Regional Rail system. In fact, it's three for the price of one in the fiasco department today, though two of the problems were not SEPTA's fault (as amazing as this sounds).

    The first incident occured at around 1:15am, as a CSX freight train derailed near Neshaminy Falls. Reports indicate that vandals placed used tires on the CSX (non-electrified) track, causing at least 6 of the over 100 freight cars to derail into the SEPTA track area. The derailment knocked catenary down, forcing SEPTA to suspend service on the West Trenton line for most of today. Service as far north as Trevose is expected to be restored in time for tomorrow's commute, however there will be no shuttle service between West Trenton and Trevose. Instead, SEPTA is telling commuters to take the R7 Trenton line, which had it's own share of problems this afternoon (more detail shortly).

    The second incident occured during the morning rush hour, as downed wires between Fern Rock and Jenkintown forced passengers on the R2 Warminster and R5 Lansdale-Doylestown line onto shuttle buses at Jenkintown to connect with the Broad Street Subway at Fern Rock. Service was restored at around 4:00pm this afternoon, however residual delays were still expected. In addition to the stranded trains north of Fern Rock, service on the R1 Airport and R5 Paoli-Thorndale lines were also impacted, as trains could not be cross-routed via the Center City tunnel. There were reports that R1 Airport Line service was also suspended for most of the day due to stranded trains on the Reading Trunk, however, that has not been confirmed.

    Okay, let me see if I understand this. SEPTA has enough buses to take passengers from Jenkintown to Fern Rock, but can't even provide basic shuttle service along the even busier West Trenton line? And isn't the Warminster line supposed to be shut down if Fearless Leader has her way? And is it any coincidence that this latest RRD meltdown occured the day before the monthly SEPTA Board Meeting - just as the last RRD meltdown did last month?

    Meanwhile, the R7 Trenton Line, which was already experiencing heavier loads due to the non-service on the R3 West Trenton line, had it's own problems during the evening rush hour. Philadelphia and Amtrak police report that an New York bound Amtrak train (#186) struck and killed a tresspasser near Bridesburg at around 3:15pm. All R7 service was suspended during the police investigation, with the exception of two peak hour trains to Trenton.

    All in all, it was not a good day to be a Regional Rail commuter in Bucks County.

  • 10 INTERRUPTED Service on the 10 was disrupted yesterday following a fatal shooting on Lansdowne Avenue between 59 and 60 Sts in West Philadelphia. Unfortunately, there was no way to divert the 10 around that area, hence shuttle buses were deployed. The 31 bus was also affected by the incident.
  • Thursday, April 17, 2003

  • FROM THE JERSEY DESK... It appears that the controversy over the 559 bus between NJ Transit, NJDOT, and Bass River Township, Ocean County, may be reaching a conclusion. The Press of Atlantic City reports that NJDOT officials may be close to reaching some sort of agreement with Bass River officials that would allow bus service to operate through the township while the Bass River bridge is being rebuilt. NJDOT officials are considering putting a 30-foot Nova RTS bus into service along that section of US 9 while construction continues or paying Burlington County to operate its shuttle buses more frequently. A final agreement should be reached in a matter of days.

  • PATCO EXPANSION POSSIBLE? On another transit related note in South Jersey, The Inquirer reported that officals from the Delaware River Port Authority are seeking long term solutions to the parking lots that are the NJ 42 and NJ 55 freeways through Camden and Gloucester Counties. One possible solution mentioned was a PATCO extension along the NJ 42/NJ 55 corridor which could potentially stretch into Millville, Cumberland County. NJ Transit had originally proposed a rail system connecting Camden and/or Philadelphia along existing rail lines to Glassboro, however fierce opposition from Gloucester County residents and freeholders eventually cut back the original South Jersey LRT system - which would've operated from Mount Holly, Burlington County to Glassboro, via Camden. Republican bigwigs in Burlington County eventually convinced NJ Transit to use the Trenton to Camden riverfront corridor instead, and the rest is boondoggle history.
  • RENDELL STRIKES BACK Gov. Ed Rendell apparently isn't taking Fearless Leader's threats to dismantle the SEPTA system piece by piece if the agency doesn't get additional funding from Harrisburg. According to The Inquirer, Rendell told reporters following a forum in Upper Darby yesterday:

    "I want SEPTA to make the same type of cuts that I made in the state government ... I've got management and productivity experts - not in the government, but outsiders - who are willing to come in for free and take a look at their operations and see if we can save money."

    Apparently, Rendell's comments have scared off Fearless Leader, as SEPTA sent Minister of Dis-Information and Lies Richard Maloney out to respond:

    "We welcome the governor, the budget secretary, or the legislature to take a look at our books in any way ... Since the mid-1990s, when government support for transit has been flat, we didn't sit on our hands and wait."

    Okay, Richie, now that you've put your foot in your mouth (again), I think I'll take you up on that offer. I'll let my people get in touch with your people and we can work something out. (Okay, that was a little scarcastic, but you get the picture.) It would, however, be nice if SEPTA released a more detailed line item-by-line item budget so the public can understand where their fare and tax dollars are going.

  • VANDALS STRIKE AGAIN For the second time in less than a month, vandals again struck the Swarthmore Rail Station on the R3 Elwyn line. In the previous incident on March 20, Swarthmore College public safety investigated reports of graffiti on the outbound platform area and along the tunnel to Magill Walk. This time, campus safety officials report that three suspects were in the area of the outbound platform at around 3:15am last Saturday (April 12) where anti-Bush graffiti was scrawled on station buildings and advertisements. When SEPTA Transit Police requested assistance from college officials, Swarthmore College Public Safety Director Owen Redgrave said, “We have no legal reason to be there or enforce anything.” Except for the fact that two vandalism incidents occured in the same general area within a three week period, and the fact that the station abuts the college campus, I'd say Redgrave and his SEPTA Police-wannabes (they certainly have the incompetence part down; see next item) do have a reason to provide some patrol services. Then again, considering the rather leftist thinking of the student body at Swarthmore College (see Dukakis, Michael among other famous alumni), it's no surprise that campus officials would virtually turn a blind eye to vandalism if it mocks the Bush Administration. On a related train of thought, where is the Swarthmore Borough police department?

  • SEPTA SLAMMED IN COURT ... AGAIN Either someone on the SEPTA Transit Police department is losing control of his department (take a bow, Chief Richard Evans), or SEPTA's police officers are just plain stupid. That seems to be the gist of the message from a recent settlement of a lawsuit involving a street musician and SEPTA. The Inquirer reports that SEPTA settled with Byard Lancaster, 60, for $18,000 on Tuesday following a SECOND civil lawsuit claiming infringment of civil rights. This comes on the heels of a $15,000 settlement last year on similar charges. (Ed. - That's $33,000 of your fare dollars in less than four months for annoying passengers; not bad work if you can get it, huh?) In addition, SEPTA agreed to train its officers on dealing with musicians on public property. The settlement reads in part that:

    "Under no circumstances shall a street musician be arrested or told to leave a location merely because that individual is playing a musical instrument or singing."

    Gee, you'd think SEPTA would've learned that lesson the first time...

    In any case, today's Inquirer reports that Evans has issued a memo to all officers laying out the rules when dealing with street musicians and other annyoing people who loiter around SEPTA stations:

    "(U)nless there is probable cause to show that the musician is in violation of another ordinance or statute, police shall not arrest or remove from the property individuals who are playing musical instruments or singing."

    Great. All some lowlife homeless person has to do after inciting trouble at Suburban Station would be to claim to a SEPTA cop that he was practicing music and they leave him alone.

  • NEWTOWN UPDATE The Newtown Advance weekly newspaper reports that the Newtown Township (Bucks) Board of Supervisors recieved a resolution from the Bucks County Transportation Management Association calling upon SEPTA and PennDOT to advance studies relating to the restoration of R8 service between Fox Chase and Newtown. Bill Rickett of the Bucks County TMA presented a resolution in support of restoring the rail line that was "suspended" in 1981 when SEPTA discontinued dieselized rail service.
  • Monday, April 14, 2003

  • CLARIFYING THE COUNCIL HEARING PLAN Friday's Daily News reported that Philadelphia City Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr. was planning to hold public hearings within City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee regarding what the Daily News said was "SEPTA's plans to make deep service cuts in the city transit division." This afternoon, an aide to Councilman Goode clarified to me what the hearings were about. The hearings would not focus on the deep and draconian service cuts that SEPTA is planning, but rather on the "Philadelphia Transit System Lease" between SEPTA and the City of Philadelphia. (A story on the KYW NewsRadio web site clears up some of the confusion.) As part of the resolution, Councilman Goode is seeking subpoena power (as permitted under the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter) to force SEPTA to cooperate. While the service cuts may be a factor behind the scheduling of the hearings, Councilman Goode appears to be putting a lot of pressure on SEPTA by using the lease agreement as some sort of leverage to pressure SEPTA into scaling back some of it's cuts. Resolution 030230, which was introduced last week, has yet to be scheduled for hearings as yet.

  • STUPID TRANSIT PLANNING TRICKS From the people who brought you the South Jersey LRT fiasco comes word that the Atlantic City Bus Terminal will be torn down and replaced with a new facility - 6 YEARS AFTER IT WAS BUILT! The Press of Atlantic City reports that New Jersey Transit has reached a deal with the Casino Redevelopment Authority to vacate the current bus terminal at Atlantic and Michigan Avenues, which opened in 1997, with a new facility to be located a block away at Atlantic and Ohio. The site of the current facility will now become a $60 million retail and entertainment complex. The CRDA will fund the $7.8 million costs for construction of the new terminal, which will be built starting this summer with an anticipated opening date of January 2004. Far be it for me to question the logic of the State of New Jersey, but didn't anybody think about something like this in 1996 when the old terminal was slated to be replaced?
  • Friday, April 11, 2003

  • ARTICS BEING OVERHAULED While the overhaul process for the NABI fleet is at least 2/3 complete, Berridge shop employees are now in the process of overahuling the Neoplan artic fleet. 7102 is the first of the 155 bus fleet now at Berridge for it's 5 year overhaul. In addition to the rehab of major components, 7102 will be one of the first artics to be retrofit with a traction control system, which will help the performance of these buses, particularly in the winter on trouble spots such as Ridge Avenue and along the 22 line to Willow Grove and Warminster Twp.
  • Thursday, April 10, 2003

  • GOV'S NEW SEPTA POINT PERSON Gov. Rendell recently appointed Denise J. Smyler, a labor attorney and member of the Barrister's Association. Smyler has ties to the governor from his days as mayor of the City of Philadelphia, having worked on labor issues relating to city employees. Smyler replaces Robert Wooten, who was initially appointed by former Gov. Tom Ridge. It wouldn't surprise me if Ms. Smyler gets a rather chilly reception from her fellow SEPTA Board members.
  • CHESTNUT HILL UPROAR It appears that people in Northwest Philadelphia are not to thrilled with the plan by SEPTA to eliminate the R8 Chestnut Hill West line - and who can blame them? The Chestnut Hill Local newspaper (link to article was posted in the phl.transportation newsgroup) reports that business owners and civic association leaders in Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, and Germantown, along with other advocates in the Manayunk/Roxborough area, are complaining in droves to elected officials, including State Sen. Allyson Schwartz (D-Philadelphia) and City Councilmembers Donna Reed Miller (D-8th) and Frank Rizzo (R-At Large). Rizzo also sent a letter to SEPTA officials that accuse the agency of targeting Gov. Rendell's political allies in Chestnut Hill. At the same time, Rizzo offered a more rational suggestion to SEPTA, as quoted in the CH Local:

    "Eliminating four of our regional rail lines and cutting or merging dozens of bus routes suggests more of a political ploy to influence
    our state government in Harrisburg, than sound budget practice," Rizzo writes.

    Rendell has many friends in the Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy neighborhoods. Rizzo's chief of staff Stewart Graham said he thought cutting the R8 was aimed at those friends.

    "SEPTA has talked about discontinuing the R7 [Chestnut Hill East line] for years," he said. "Now they want to cut the R8. You have to wonder about what strategy was there."

    Rizzo also suggested some reductions in service rather than wholesale cuts. "At least this would allow communities to continue to be served," Rizzo writes.

    Well said, councilman. It's a damn shame that he doesn't run against Emperor Street this fall (though if Sam Katz were elected, it would still mark a major upgrade at Broad & Market).
  • Wednesday, April 09, 2003

  • FRANKFORD TERMINAL UPDATE The Northeast News Gleaner followed-up on the recent public meeting regarding the "Frankford Swing" portion of the Frankford Terminal reconstruction. El service between Erie-Torresdale and Bridge-Pratt will be suspended for a 9 day period starting July 18 while construction crews demolish the old El structure connecting the old Bridge-Pratt headhouse to the new Frankford Terminal building. The News Gleaner reports that another meeting is scheduled to take place in June; more details about the meeting will be released in the future.
  • MORE GORY DETAILS An updated listing of all service cuts and fare hikes that SEPTA is proposing is now available on a separate page (Updated on April 16).

  • OPERATING BUDGET POSTED For the first time in recent memory, the entire SEPTA Operating Budget is being posted online at the SEPTA web site. This marks a dramatic change from past policy, in which only an executive summary was posted. Viewing the file requires Adobe Acrobat reader.
  • Tuesday, April 08, 2003

  • NEXT STOP ... QUAKERTOWN? Montgomery Newspapers/Pennridge News-Herald reports that U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and several political leaders from Bucks, Lehigh, and Montgomery Counties staged a media event at the former Quakertown rail station in support of restoring rail service to Quakertown and northern Bucks. Unlike the Schuylkill Valley boondoggle, the Quakertown project would cost only $200 million and utilize diesel equipment. The project was spearheaded by the Bucks County Planning Commission, however is not expected to become a reality for another decade. Officials noted the heavy congestion along the PA 309 corridor between Montgomeryville and Quakertown as the catalyst for restoring service to Quakertown and possibly the Lehigh Valley, which ended in 1981.
  • WINTER'S LAST BLAST Most of the SEPTA region was not affected by yesterday's snow storm, however service on the 55 was cut back to Willow Grove due to poor road conditions along PA 611 in Central Bucks. The storm also caused an accident near Trenton as a SEPTA vehicle slid off Bear Tavern Rd near the Trenton-Mercer County Airport in Ewing Township, in the general vicinity of the West Trenton Rail Station on the R3 line. The location of the accident tends to indicate that this was a T-Car from the Regional Rail Division rather than a Route 127 bus, since the 127 operates within the City of Trenton. While en route, the Trenton Times reports that a SEPTA supervisor and a Ewing Township EMT were slightly injured after being struck by a Mercer County Sheriff's Office vehicle while at the accident scene. There was also a report of a water main break in Fox Chase, forcing the 18 and 24 to operate on diversion routing during the PM peak. But, for the most part, the storm had minimal impact on SEPTA operations - at least that's what we were told in the press...

  • NIGHTMARE ON BROAD STREET With the Phillies hosting the (hey, didn't you used to be the) Atlanta Braves at the Vet, the Sixers taking on the Ben Wallace-less Detroit Pistons (good for Sixers fans, bad if you have Wallace in your fantasy NBA league, and great if you live in the Coatesville area - home of Pistons forward Richard Hamilton) at the Whatisitcalledtoday Center, and some has been band called Def Leppard (they were going out of style when I was in high school - and that was 10 years ago) playing at the Spectrum, you can expect a massive crush of people on the Broad Street Line starting at around 5:30pm. Hopefully, SEPTA will add enough express trains to Pattison to accomodate the crowds. I would also expect that the turnstile problems that wreaked havoc on Sunday will have been corrected by now...
  • Sunday, April 06, 2003

  • TURNSTILE PROBLEMS There's nothing like incompetence at SEPTA, especially after the Phillies offense can't comprehend the simple concept of bringing runners home in a 2-0 loss to those Pittsburgh Pirates (which means I have to buy one of my friends - a Johnstown native and fan of all Pittsburgh sports teams - a drink). As passengers made their way to the northernmost headhouse (#1) to enter the subway, the turnstiles failed - all of them. Given the fact that SEPTA has enough problems, we might as well blame this problem on Rheal Cormier (hell, Phillies fans seem to blame him for everything else, though he did pitch a scoreless 9th).
  • Wednesday, April 02, 2003

  • THE GORY DETAILS Now that I've had the chance to settle down and review the press releases and news articles on SEPTA's Financial Fiasco, here is a listing of some - not not all - of the proposed cuts to SEPTA service (ed. note: A revised listing of service cuts was posted on April 10 - please refer to that listing for the most recent proposed cuts).

    The press is already starting to take notice, with some outlets citing elected officials who question SEPTA's tactics when dealing with Harrisburg. That was the tone of Philadelphia City Councilman Michael Nutter's comments to Jere Downs in today's Inquirer article. State Rep. Richard Giest (R-Blair), the chairman of the House Transportation Committee told Chris Brennan in today's Daily News that SEPTA was "rattling the sabre."

  • SHOOTING AT 30 STREET (Updated 3 April 03) A shooting occured on the outbound subway-surface platform at 30 St last night. NBC 10 initially reported that a 25-year-old woman was arrested by police after she allegedly shot a 51-year-old man in the left leg on the platform, sometime during the PM peak. NBC 10's report came out on Tuesday afternoon. The Daily News gave a more accurate accounting of the incident. At around 3:30pm, as a Darby bound 11 pulled into 30 St, an arguement between the 51 year old male and a women (described by the Daily News as in her 20's) broke out as people were boarding the trolley. Witnesses say that the man allegedly flashed a knife, while the female yelled out that he had the knife. At that point, a shot was fired, from an unknown person. Police had 6 people in custody, however they were not charged. Neither was the woman involved in the incident as was erroneously reported by NBC 10. The Daily News indicated that police were still not able to find the weapon or identify a suspect in the case. (And you wonder why the SEPTA Transit Police union was raising hell over Fearless Leader's elimination of overtime during Condition Orange? It's not the terrorists carrying weapons of mass destruction I'd be worried about, it's the criminals carrying guns that I'd be worried about.)

  • CLEAN STATIONS? WHAT'S THAT MEAN? On a semi related note, several commuters have complained to SEPTA about - get this - rotting oranges at the 19 Street subway-surface station. The Daily News noted that the oranges had been at the station for several weeks according to passengers. It also noted some less than sanitary conditions at the 15 St and 30 St subway-surface stations. Gee, did it ever occur to SEPTA to actually clean these stations at night when fewer trolleys are operating or in some cases running over the top?

  • MORE FROM SOUTHAMPTON According to Montgomery Newspapers/Willow Grove Guide, the Upper Southampton Township supervisors re-affirmed a 1991 resolution calling on SEPTA to restore rail service between Fox Chase and Newtown. Township officials recently killed a rail to trails plan after SEPTA reportedly rejected the idea. Take that for what you will...

  • ALSO PLOWED UNDER Apparently, Philadelphia City Council wasn't the only group less than thrilled with the poor access to bus stops and other rail lines following the recent blizzard. According to the Delaware County Daily Times, poor snow removal in Ridley Park made things very difficult for commuters trying to reach the Ridley Park rail station (R2 Marcus Hook). Joan Wagner of Purcell Street told the Ridley Park Borough Council recently about the lack of clear paths to and from the train station from the parking lots and other off-street parking areas near the station. Ms. Wagner also recounted the poor access to parking meters near the station. "We kind of held on to each other," she said. "We are paying $1.00 a day to park at those meters and we had to climb through snow to get to the meters." The article (not online) didn't note whether the paths in question were borough property or on SEPTA property. After seeing first hand the poor job SEPTA had done during this past winter in keeping the Paoli station lot cleared, this is hardly surprising.

  • NEW GRETNA CONTROVERSY The Press of Atlantic City reports a controversy between NJ Transit and officials in the New Gretna section of Bass River Township, Ocean County. Several months ago, NJT re-routed the 559 bus off of US 9 onto the Garden State Parkway due to construction of the Bass River Bridge. With the detour, New Gretna has been cut off from the rest of the state, at least from a transit perspective. The 559 bus was re-routed due to the heavier weight of the new MCI D4000 cruisers. This detour is despite the fact that school buses, semis, and other similarly sized vehicles are crossing the Bass River Bridge, but not NJT buses. The detour is expected to be in effect for at least two years.
  • Tuesday, April 01, 2003

  • MONEY ME$$ It turns out that the financial situation at SEPTA is far worse than anyone could've anticipated. In an extremely rare news conference by Fearless Leader, the dire news was laid out as SEPTA attempts to address a nearly $50-55 million budget gap. A mix of fare hikes and service cuts - as warned by this site a few weeks ago - are planned. Upon first glance, the service cuts seem to hit Chester and Delaware Counties pretty hard, while there is a lesser impact in the city, Montgomery and Bucks. Given SEPTA's track record as it pertains to the western suburbs, this is really not a surprise.

    Part of the problem with SEPTA is the lack of funding coming from Harrisburg. Unlike most states - particularly in the western part of the country - SEPTA - and most transit systems in Pennsylvania - does not have a permanently dedicated source of funding that allocates "X" amount of dollars per year. Funding from Harrisburg has been frozen at near-1996 levels since the passage of Act 3, which was supposed to give SEPTA and other state-funded systems a dedicated funding source. That funding source (which will be detailed in future posts) has actually decreased over the past two years due to the slowing economy and de-regulation of the electricty industry (part of the funding came from utility taxes).

    The bad news is the legislature rapidly passed Gov. Rendell's budget without going through the traditional budget process, as has been reported on several media outlets across the state. Making things worse is this response from Eric Bugaile, director of the Pennsylvania House Transportation Commitee, as told the Inquirer's Jere Downs in today's editions:

    "SEPTA will be crying 'poor me,' but those cuts are here to stay."

    Nice. For further unintentional comedy, you may also want to note that SEPTA Board Chairman/Chief Micro-Managing Officer Radio Impresario/Turnpike Commissioner/Land Developer Extraordinaire/Former Convention Center Board Member and all around weasel Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. called the budget situation "a nightmare for us." Well, gee, Mr. Deon, it was your GOP buddies in Harrisburg who decided to slam the budget down our throats without any meaningful debate.

    The hearing dates were posted last month, and will be reposted within the next day or so. Stay tuned, as things are going to get very ugly, very quickly.