Monday, October 27, 2003


It's almost laughable that SEPTA would have to issue a press release for this after they should've been doing it all along...

SEPTA issued a press release announcing that the lower level at Pattison station would be open for all Iggles home games at "The New $512 million, Partially Taxpayer Subsidized License for Lurie and Banner to Gouge Prices at 11 St and Pattison Av" for the rest of this season. SEPTA reports that nearly ridership at Pattison has average nearly 10,000 riders for the first three home games this season (not counting yesterday's win over the "J-E-T-S Help Help Help" - the finest effort of the season by the Iggles, which is pretty much like using a knife to fill a bandaid wound).

This raises the question "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG TO FIGURE THAT OUT?"


In Sunday's Inquirer, Jere Downs and Anthony R. Wood (who I'm guessing work out of South Jersey) wrote a detailed article on SEPTA's plan of attack to combat one of the few problems on the Regional Rail system that is out of their control - slippery rail conditions. Rather than attempt to explain the process (I'm being lazy here, obviously), click on the link and you'll get an idea on what SEPTA and NJ Transit are doing.

As an added bonus, you'll get to read another one of BLE boss Tom Dorricott's classic one-liners, as he compares slippery rail conditions to the Three Stooges.

And, in a Frankford Terminal exclusive, I'd be more than happy to name those Three Stooges to whom he might be referring to: Fearless Leader, Don Pasquale, and the AGM of Faulty Operations.


The Daily News gave a recap of Thursday's SEPTA Board meeting that was probably longer than the meeting itself. The meeting, which started 11 minutes late (or, by 104 standards, on-time), lasted all of 15 minutes, which would make it seem like yet another rubber-stamp session before the Board members dart off to whatever the hell it is they do with the rest of their time.

Well, they didn't count on DVARP slamming the Regional Rail Division's pitiful on-time performance over the past 17 months. DVARP President Don Nigro made SEPTA look foolish (which doesn't take much these days) by noting that on-time RRD performance has been at 90 percent or below since May 2002, with the R3 West Trenton line running at only a 77 percent on-time clip in April 2003.

"In the past two months, how many minutes of board discussion have been focused on this crisis?" Nigro asked the board yesterday during the public comment portion of an otherwise rapid and uncontested 15 minute meeting.

There was no response in the room.

"That was not a rhetorical question," Nigro said.

Then, for what appeared to be the first time in recent memory, there was a non-rhetorical response from Don Pasquale.

"It is an issue for the board to be taking seriously," (Don Pasquale) said, adding that the issue was being examined, and noting that there are "extenuating circumstances" that may explain the comparatively poor on-time percentage.

Right. That also doesn't take into account the large number of cancelled trains on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line last month, for which few alternate services were available for riders west of Paoli in most cases.

As one would expect, after the blink and you'll miss it meeting, Fearless Leader addressed the issue:

"I'm not saying we're happy about it," said Moore, who accused Nigro of "Showboating." (sic)

Showboating? Showboating? I must have missed that one. In all the years I've been a member of DVARP, I've never known DVARP to engage in "showboating." Staging a rally here and there, yes, but at least they handle themselves with more professionalism that the entire senior management at SEPTA combined.

Memo to Fearless Leader: Terrell Owens engages in showboating. Manny Ramirez engages in showboating. Warren Sapp engages in showboating. But Don Nigro? I guess if we're going to use your logic, "showboating" is when somebody (in this case DVARP) calls you out on a major crisis, which in other systems would have initiated a long march to the unemployment lines, and SEPTA has no legitimate reaction except to kill the messenger, so to speak. This is what's known as the James Carville school of public relations, a tactic perfect by your own Minister of Mis-Information, Richard Maloney.

And I also suppose that those activists who tossed their shoes at the board at the May meeting weren't showboating. Neither, apparently, were ACORN after they shut down the Subway-Surface lines at 40 St Portal two years ago (and were not, as best as I can recall, arrested or charged with any crime). And those wheelchair activists who chained themselves to a 33 bus in Center City weren't showboating either.

Perhaps the fact that SEPTA's Regional Rail Division is the laughing stock of the industry (though the MBTA might likely overtake SEPTA in about 2-3 years) is the reason you decided to become defensive. Fine. Whatever. That's no reason to go on the offensive and blame DVARP for the simple fact that the Regional Rail Division, despite ridership increases in recent years (which may, ironically enough, be in spite of the history of incompetence within 1234 Market) is a national industry joke.

Maybe it's the status quo that is the reason behind the Overbrook station rehab taking 4 YEARS to complete; and to make things worse, it looks as though SEPTA is going to yet again "forget" to add the mini-high platforms to allow wheelchair access. Oh, sure, it happens occasionally. But, Overbrook isn't the first station where SEPTA conveniently forgot to do the same thing at Strafford and Radnor stations on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line and on the inbound platform at the rehabbed Chester Transportation Center.


Considering that DVARP and other individuals and organizations (former Citizen's Advisory Committee member Lorraine Brill, Tom Dorricott of the BLE, and Dennis Winters of the Clean Air Council comes to mind) have a simple goal of actually improving the system instead of maintaining the status quo, you might not want to be as flippant as you were in the Daily News.

But, that would be asking to much, now wouldn't it? After all, your predecessor, Jack Leary, is now part of a consortium of former MBTA managers that is currently mis-managing the T's Commuter Rail system. So, there's hope that in due time, the T will make SEPTA's Regional Rail system look like Metro-North in New York or even Metra in Chicago (which is the gold standard of commuter rail systems in the U.S.).

After all, it's not like you have to stand in the cold at Downingtown... or Overbrook... or Chester... or New Britain... or Willow Grove. It's not like you have to ride in "rehabbed" rail cars where the brand new seats that were installed over the past 5 years are starting to fall apart as badly as the seats on the M-4 El cars. It's not as though you've ever sat through a long RRD delay in which the train isn't even moving due to signal problems, downed wires, or whatever particular whims SEPTA can come up with (and believe me, I'd bet that there's a ton of those in storage, right next to the defribulators that may never be deployed).

No, of course not. You're Fearless Leader. You're supposedly better than us lowly riders who have to put up with this crap day after day.

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