Tuesday, August 19, 2003

MORE 104 PROBLEMS It seems that every week, there's always at least 3 or 4 incidents of missing buses on 104 trips to West Chester. On Saturday, the 10:10am departure to 69 St Terminal was a no show, apparently due to mechanical problems. Yesterday, the 3:50pm to 69 St also never made it to West Chester for the same reasons. Missing buses, however, seem to be the least of the line's problems.

For the past two days, Sharpless St in West Chester has been blocked off due to a crane blocking the intersection of Sharpless and Church. In theory, 104 buses en route to West Chester University would turn right on Price St, then left on Church and resume the normal routing. Um, no. Some buses went one block south of Sharpless to University Av, which is a very narrow street and not suitable for 102-inch wide buses. Other buses were not running to the college at all, simply laying over at New and Market. From here, things get crazier...

The operator on the 4:20pm from West Chester claimed that the control center had instructed him to lay over at New and Market. A call to SEPTA's Travel Mis-Information Center claimed that no detours had been reported on the 104, but that the 3:50pm from West Chester was a no-show. This was in spite of the fact that the Travel Mis-Information Center was notified at around 12:00pm that Sharpless was closed and that buses would have to detour via Price. In fact, the 11:05pm to 69 St Terminal also bypassed the college, as, I'm sure, a lot of the other runs over the course of the day.

Somehow, with all the new technology that SEPTA has deployed over the past few years (or not deployed as is the case of the defribulators hiding in a closet at 1234 Market), you'd think that the Control Center would be able to give the Travel Mis-Information Center access to real-time transit delays and detours. You would also think that someone would be smart enough to send a supervisor out to West Chester to figure out what the actual detour is supposed to be. Of course not, this is West Chester we're talking about, which time and time again has become the step-child of the region as far as SEPTA is concerned. SEPTA has no problem posting detour information affecting routes in Montgomery or Bucks Counties, but once you get west of Lower Merion, you're on your own.

RED ARROW SCHEDULE CONTROVERSY The schedules for Red Arrow buses and trolleys were to have changed over Labor Day weekend. The schedule change was then pushed back to September 8. Now, the changes are on hold indefinately, thanks to a problem with the cutting of runs. Apparently, the runs were cut using City Transit Division policies, which involves a lot of en route relief points (such as Wissahickon Transfer Center for Allegheny runs). Such relief points are neither permitted nor feasible under the Red Arrow contract. So now, the rotating resumes at 1234 Market have to go back to the drawing board.

As a result of the run cutting problems, some extra 120 "trippers" to Cheyney will have to be added until the full fall schedule becomes official, which could be as late as September 15. By that time, both Cheyney and West Chester will be three weeks into their respective fall semesters, while Delaware County Community College starts its fall semester a week later.

The run cutting problems, apparently, was the reason why the June 16 Red Arrow schedule change was pushed back to July 7. Wow, and you wonder why a lot of the griping in the suburbs about SEPTA has come from the western suburbs?

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