Thursday, April 17, 2003

  • 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.
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