Tuesday, July 01, 2003

SUBURBAN/RAILROAD SCHEDULE CHANGES Timetables in the Red Arrow, Frontier, and Railroad divisions will change this weekend. The new Frontier and Railroad timetables go into effect on Sunday, while Red Arrow schedules will change on Monday.

On the Railroad side of things, R5 Paoli-Thorndale and R6 Norristown riders will be displeased to learn that the "temporary" schedule changes that were part of the Rail Power Project schedule fiasco are being made permanent. Meanwhile, the cry babies in the People's Republic of Lower Merion got their way after one too many temper tantrums as it pertains to the R6 Cynwyd line. The full schedule will be restored on Monday, however service will reportedly be cut back to Suburban Station instead of Market East, with single car trains to be utilized (pending Amtrak approval). Maybe I missed something, but wasn't the Paoli line supposed to be the most powerful and influential group of Regional Rail riders?

And now, the official line from SEPTA is that the R5 and R6 trains that were cut for the RPP, courtesy of Friday's Inquirer:

These trains, yanked so the Rail Power project could install new electric overhead wire last winter, do not fit well back in the schedule, Charles Webb, SEPTA's chief service planning officer, told the board.

It sounds like the folks along the Main Line were out politiced by the cry babies in Bala Cynwyd and Gladwynne. Either that, or BLE spokesman Tom Dorricott has identified a more accurate reason:

"This budget is a subterfuge for them not being able to run the system ... I think it stinks."

And yet, some SEPTA Board members - most notably State Sen. Stuart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) are often the first to criticize those who criticize the why the Regional Rail system is being mis-managed.

Adding insult to injury for Paoli and Norristown line riders, the remaining proposed cuts will not take effect until September, except for the closing of Lamokin St/Chester station on the R2 Marcus Hook line.

Then again, the way some people in SEPTA are treating the Cynwyd Line, it makes you wonder if the riders on the other lines are getting screwed over, particularly the Paoli line riders (especially those who board between Thorndale and Malvern). Take this recent line from SEPTA's Minister of Mis-information Richard Maloney in the recent edition of the Main Line Times weekly:

[M]aloney said the two lines will not only spared from elimination, but they also didn't expect to trim down the level of service in the area. He added that people are expressing relief over the decision.

"The R-6, that's the one they're all cheering," Maloney said.

Of course they're cheering the restoration of the Cynwyd line. I'm sure there are people at SEPTA cheering as well, since the full schedule restoration of the Cynwyd line seems to be coming at the expense of the Paoli and Norristown lines.

Meanwhile, in the suburbs, there are few changes that will be in effect with the new pickings. The most notable changes are in Frontier territory, as the 92 will no longer serve New/Market Sts in West Chester in the southbound direction except upon request to the operator, and the 95 will now serve the new IKEA at the Plymouth Shopping Center across from Frontier Depot in Plymouth Twp.

For some odd reason, Red Arrow timetables were issued with an effective date of June 16, even though the schedules take effect on July 7. The official notice indicates that this was due to a "scheduling conflict" (read: "We screwed up, again").

ON THE MONEY ANALYSIS Daily News op-ed columnist Mark Allen Hughes offered an interesting, if not accurate, analysis of SEPTA's latest fiscal crisis in today's editions, splitting the blame between Harrisburg and SEPTA itself.

ANOTHER POL SLAMS SEPTA According to the Delaware County Daily Times, State Rep. Mario Civera (R-Delaware) is not too thrilled with SEPTA and PennDOT. Yesterday, during a meeting which included Upper Darby Twp mayor Raymond Shay and officials from the township, PennDOT and SEPTA, Civera blasted the SEPTA for delaying a crossing renewal project on the Red Arrow trolley trunk line at Lansdowne Avenue, which was to have taken place on the weekend of June 20-22, but was pushed back to the weekend of July 18-21. The heavy rain on June 20 essentially delayed the project for about a month. The construction materials are now being stored at the parking lot of the Lansdowne Av trolley station.

BASS RIVER UPDATE Burlington County freeholders are preparing a plan that would provide shuttle van service to residents of Bass River Township to replace NJ Transit's 559 bus, which has been detoured since the start of this year. According to the Burlington County Times, two county-owned 10 passenger vans would be deployed in order to get Bass River residents to the nearest NJT bus stop in Little Egg Harbor Twp, Ocean County. The county is seeking assistance from NJDOT for help in defraying the $112,400 price tag.

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