Monday, July 14, 2003

52 CHANGES NOT SITTING WELL WITH SOME The St. Joseph's University dorm construction project at 54 St/City Av brings along some good news/bad news for riders on the 52 and residents in the Wynnefield area.

The good news (at least for riders) is that the during daytime hours, the 52 will be re-routed to serve Overbrook Rail Station, allowing a connection for West Philadelphia residents to the R5 Paoli-Thorndale line; the daytime routing will be via 54 St, City Av, Cardinal Av, Overbrook Av, 59 St, Drexel Rd, and City Av to 54 St south of City Av, using most of the same streets as the G bus. The evening routing will not serve Overbrook Rail Station, but will simply loop through a parking lot across from the construction site on 54 St.

Now, the bad news... the Inquirer reported on Friday at some residents in Wynnefield are less than thrilled about the prospect of more buses through the neighborhood.

But one problem with (St. Joseph's) new plan is SEPTA buses. (Wynnefield Residents Association Director Robin) Trent said that in the past, buses on the 52 route used the property where the dorms will be built to turn around. Now the buses are using Overbrook Avenue, and that bothers residents, Trent said.

The new routing took effect on Sunday. In fliers passed out by SEPTA, it's noted that the routing is being instituted on an experimental basis. I'm sure the WRA will be very thrilled with that.

Whether or not SEPTA or St. Joe's dropped the ball on this one is up for debate. The re-routing was forced since the former turn-around point for the 52 is now part of the new dorm's construction site.

RAIL POWER PROJECT REDUX? It appears that SEPTA will be operating subway-surface trolleys over the top (that's via the diversion routing in local parlance) for three weeks starting the weekend of August 8th. The diversion is required to repair the eastbound rail between 22 St and 15 St. Let's see how SEPTA handles the public relations on this project...

SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME... Sunday's Inquirer had an interesting story about why SEPTA isn't getting what it claims to be a sufficient amount of funding from Harrisburg. The legislature created a Public Utility Realty Tax fund (PURTA) that earmarked a portion of its funding to transit agencies across Pennsylvania. In 1997, SEPTA recieved $37.4 million out of this fund. 1997 was the year that Harrisburg de-regulated the industry, which led to power-plant taxes no longer being paid into the PURTA. Since 1997, SEPTA's share of state funding from PURTA collections decreased to nearly $18.6 million - a nearly 50 percent drop-off from 1997. As a result, SEPTA is joining the City and School District of Philadelphia in legal action regarding the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant in Salem Twp, Luzerne County. The Inquirer article notes that the PPL-owned plant was once a source of nearly $30 million in PURTA revenues. For once, this mess can't be blamed on SEPTA, but rather TPTB in Harrisburg, who didn't really think about the repercussions of de-regulating the electric industry.

95/IKEA UPDATE The latest on the proposed (but stalled) re-routing of the 95 into the Market Place at Plymouth Center complex is being delayed due to problems at IKEA's end. Apparently, IKEA's management had signed off on the idea, but the owners of MPPC have yet to give formal permission for the 95 to enter the property. One would think that SEPTA would've held off on an announcement in the Metro paper and other outlets until after all the I's were dotted and T's were crossed, but it's hard to pin all the blame on SEPTA.

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