Wednesday, October 22, 2003

FRONTIER CHANGES This is a listing of the major changes that will take place on Frontier routes starting this Sunday:

  • ROUTES 93, 97, 98, 124/125, 130, and 131 Minor schedule adjustments on these routes
  • ROUTE 94 On detour off of Bethlehem Pike bridge via Church Rd, PA 309, and Pennsylvania Av; new timetable to reflect added running time and temporary routing
  • ROUTE 95 Weekday peak service between Penn Square and Plymouth Meeting Mall reduced from every 30 minutes to every 60 minutes; short turns between Gulph Mills and Conshohocken are not affected
  • ROUTE 96 Trip times increased due to traffic conditions
  • ROUTE 99 Service between Royersford and Pottstown eliminated
  • ROUTE 128 Mid-day service on weekdays and Saturdays to be reduced from every 60 minutes to every 90 minutes
  • ROUTE 201 "Double section" AM peak trips (second bus to cover overflow ridership) eliminated; all service after 8:00pm eliminated
  • ROUTE 203 Eliminated
  • ROUTE 206 Early evening and Saturday service eliminated


A former Amtrak official offered a three-pronged plan to allow SEPTA to alleviate it's $41 million budget defecit without cutting service or raising fares. Today's Inquirer reports that former Amtrak CFO Arlene Friner recommended that SEPTA - in addition to seeking the $15 million flexible highway funding that is being transfered from the PA 309 project - use $10 million from a special fund that SEPTA reportedly makes very little use of.

... SEPTA could spend $10 million of $37 million in reserves from leveraged leases on its equipment. Leveraged leases allow tax-exempt agencies such as SEPTA to profit from the depreciation of their capital assets.

Unlike other transit agencies, Friner said, SEPTA takes the "reasonable but conservative position" of not spending that money until those leases expire.

Friner added that "a responsible argument can be made" that SEPTA could spend $10 million from that fund.

SEPTA board member Thomas Ellis is also a bond lawyer with experience in leveraged lease transactions. He saw Friner's recommendation to dip into SEPTA's reserves this way: "It is like refinancing your home and using those monies to pay your bills rather than build a new bathroom."

Friner also suggested that the state attempt to find a dedicated source of funding for the state's mass transit systems, noting:

...[T]he transit agencies have financial gaps "because of a structural funding problem that dates back to the mid-1990s."

The lack of state aid has been "masked" in recent years, Friner said, as transit agencies have coped by diverting capital grants to pay for everyday expenses. For example, SEPTA funneled $29 million in capital grants this year into its $875 million fiscal 2004 budget.

Well, that was much ado about nothing, now wasn't it? One would've thought that Friner would've been able to identify specific effeciency problems within the system that would've made these steps unneccesary. Having not yet seen this report, I would suspect that this may have been nothing more than a ploy to pressure Harrisburg to find a more reliable source of transit funding while not putting any pressure on SEPTA to become more efficient.

There are people out there who know about the skeletons in SEPTA's closets. Nobody, however, seems to want to do anything about it...


A southbound 52 bus swerved to avoid a car and was rearended by two other vehicles yesterday morning. The accident occurred at 52 St/Sansom St at around 11:40am. The driver of a car pulled out in front of the bus, which swerved to avoid it. Two cars following the bus struck the rear of the vehicle. There were reports of injuries both on the bus and in the cars.

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