Tuesday, May 13, 2003

  • HEARING UPDATES The first two days of SEPTA hearings have passed, but not before SEPTA officials got an earful from irate riders in Doylestown and Media. During the Doylestown hearings on Monday, many commuters focused on the proposed elimination of the 128 bus - which operates between Neshaminy and Oxford Valley malls via Levittown and Bristol - and the R2 Warminster. Most of the complaints at the Media hearing focused on the 116 - which operates between Chester and Granite Run Mall via Aston and Glen Riddle - while at least three reps from PNC Bank's Eastwick facility argued against eliminating the R1 Airport line. Interestingly enough, there have been few comments made about the fare increases on the railroad and on most non-base fare increases on the transit side. The next round of hearings will take place in West Chester tomorrow and in Norristown on Thursday. The big hearings at the Convention Center in Philadelphia take place this coming Monday.

  • R6 REPRIEVE After what appears to have been a lot of complaining from Montgomery County officials, SEPTA has decided to operate limited train service after all on the R6 Cynwyd line. The original plan was to have all R6 service provided by shuttle buses. After several passengers complained to Lower Merion township officials - who apparently seem to have way too much pull within SEPTA - SEPTA relented and is now operating a total of 4 trains in each direction - 3 peak direction and one reverse peak direction train. Meanwhile, riders on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale, R6 Norristown, and R8 Fox Chase lines will still face reduced service - which coincidentially happens to be what SEPTA is proposing for weekday service as part of the draconian service reduction plan.

  • SEPTA POLICE STRIKE? The Daily News reported on Saturday that SEPTA Transit Police officers have authorized their union leadership to call a strike if a settlement isn't reached soon. FOP Lodge 109 has been working without a contract since October 2002. FOP officials are calling for significant salary increases which would - in theory - improve SEPTA Police officer's standing as being among the lowest paid officers in the region. The Daily News also reports that turnover within the department has reached about 25 percent - within the past 2-4 months alone, at least two SEPTA Police officers have since moved on to the greener pasture$ of Upper Darby Township's police department, where top pay is nearly double that of a typical SEPTA police officer's salary. Even though most police departments are prohibited by law from striking, apparently, SEPTA is exempt from that prohibition. Union officials however indicate a willingness to avoid a strike if SEPTA agrees to binding arbitration. Considering SEPTA's stance on arbitration in the past, that may very well not happen.
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