TROLLEY ACCIDENT FOLLOW-UP
The Daily Pennsylvanian recently reported that excessive speed was to blame for the September 23 accident where K-Car 9001 slammed into the side of a building at 42 St/Spruce St. 9001 was en route to Yeadon on the 13 shortly after 3:00am when the accident occurred.
SEPTA is presently attempting to reach a settlement with the building owners, which should be a very interesting process, knowing SEPTA's past handling of such matters. Of course, when SEPTA trots out Minister of Mis-information Richard Maloney, you can kind of sense that a reasonable settlement may take some time:
"We're continuing to talk with the property owner for a settlement of the damage costs ... I'm not really sure how much longer it'll take. These things have a tendency to take some time."
No kidding, Minister... Just ask some of the displaced residents who were forced to move as a result of the accident.
"We could file a lawsuit, but we're obviously not going to," (Penn undergrad Tara) Einis said. "Basically we're just trying to get compensated for any differences in fees we might get."
That might not be a bad idea. Nothing gets a stumbling bureaucracy moving like a lawsuit...
Einis said that (property owner) Campus Apartments has been serving as a go-between to possibly obtain reimbursement from SEPTA...
"I guess it's over now," she added. "But I'm not a big fan of those trolleys, I must say."
Well, after one runs into your house, that might not be an unreasonable statement to make...
According to Einis, Campus Apartments "has been amazing" in helping the displaced residents.
"SEPTA's just being bad and Campus Apartments is just being really great," she said, explaining that SEPTA has not paid for any of the expenses incurred from moving after the incident.
Although the rent for the new apartment is higher, Einis said that Campus Apartments is covering the difference.
Campus Apartments "moved us here out of their kindness," she said, adding that Campus Apartments also paid for movers to come help the students relocate.
"The difference in rent is pretty big, and SEPTA is hopefully going to take the difference" eventually, she said.
Very funny, Ms. Einis. This is SEPTA we're talking about. You'd have an easier chance of being named to the CAC than you do of being reimbursed by 1234 Market (without suing, that is).
In addition to the increase in rent, Einis said there are other "little things" that cost more as well and it is these extra costs which have been forced upon her since the crash.
"Out of pocket, we're probably paying $80 more a month," she said, noting that she and her roommate have been forced to use landline phones in their apartment, "because our cell phones don't work here."
"SEPTA said they're going to pay for it but we don't know if they're going to," she said. "SEPTA is a really slow-moving institution."
The last statement should be a candidate for "Understatement of the Year." And it's not just the management either...
WHAT'S THE HOLD-UP?
So, Chester County is supposed to start building a new parking garage as part of a planned new courthouse complex on the 200 block of West Market. As part of the garage, there is supposed to be a transportation center to allow SEPTA buses to layover off of Market St, and presumably have facilities for SEPTA employees to take breaks (use the restrooms, etc).
To quote ESPN's Lee Corso: "Not so fast, my friends."
The Inquirer reports that SEPTA lawyers are gumming up the works (adding more credibility to Tara Einis' comments about the slow moving culture at 1234 Market). SEPTA's legal staff sent a copy of the proposed lease to the Chester County General Authority (which will manage the garage/transportation center) on November 6, according to spokesman Jim Whitaker.
Retiring Chester County Commissioner and SEPTA Board Member Karen Martynick says that indemficiation and liability issues are two stumbling blocks that are stalling construction, which was to have started earlier this year, with a completion schedule of 10 months. (By contrast, West Chester University's new parking deck at Church and Sharpless Sts was constructed in nearly half as long, however that structure is only 4 stories tall while the new downtown parking deck is supposed to be 7 stories tall.)
"The transit center is essentially a gift to SEPTA," said Martynick, because there will be no fees charged for its use of the facility. "It meets the county's overall goals in terms of access to the justice center."
It's odd that Martynick - who in the past has been cricital of alleged micro-management of day-to-day operations by Don Pasquale - calls the West Chester Transportation Center "a gift to SEPTA" after the way Chester County keeps getting shafted in terms of crappy service over the past few years. On the other hand, it would be nice if the new transportation center also included a fare sales office similar to what's available at other major terminals (Bridge-Pratt, Olney, 69 St, Chester, Norristown among others) so people who live in West Chester don't have to go into the city or to Paoli to buy fare instruments.
That said, it would be nice if SEPTA could try working with Chester County so their project can more forward - and it's price tag can stay within budget. Of course, it would also be nice if pigs could fly, but that's asking too much.
PROBLEMS IN GARDEN CITY
Residents in the Garden City section of Nether Providence Township have been complaining about speeding operators along the 118 line. The Delaware County Daily Times reports that township officials are considering holding a hearing to air out these issues (note: article not available on-line). That may be easier said than done.
One resident reported recieved a letter from Fearless Leader herself, indicating that "SEPTA would not hold a hearing on the subject." That led to this response from township board member Sara Lynn Petrosky:
"The township can hold a hearing, but SEPTA has to make the decision (regarding the bus drivers and the bus route) ... Utlimately, it's SEPTA we have to convince."
Good luck. Trying to get SEPTA to take action on anything is next to impossible.
During that same hearing, John Calnan (whose name was misspelled "Callahan" in the article), SEPTA's point person on suburban routes described the controversy as "a long and thorny issue," noting that changing the routing as several residents had suggested could jeopardize para-transit service in that neighborhood. Despite requests from the township board to have SEPTA re-consider it's decision not to hold a hearing, the article noted "Calnan said all he could do was pass along the request to his bosses."
It seems the biggest issue for people in Garden City is to see SEPTA to take action against operators who are allegedly violating traffic laws. The Daily Times noted that residents of Ryanard Rd and Willow Rd have observed operators speeding and failing to properly stop at stop signs.
"This is a safety issue. These are streets filled with children every day," said Carol Captis, a Willow Rd resident.
(Captis was referring to the Nether Providence Elementary School, which is located on Moore Rd, where the 118 travels between Brookhaven Rd and Media Pkwy.)
While Garden City residents and Nether Providence officials have the right to expect SEPTA to take action, in fairness, a public hearing may not be an appropriate process to resolve this issue. The last time I checked, Nether Providence has its own police department. Did it ever occur to these people that maybe they have to be the ones enforcing the laws? (Case in point: West Whiteland Township police have been cracking down on motorists riding the shoulder along PA 100 approaching the Exton Rail Station and the US 30 Bypass. One of those stopped was a Krapf's Transit bus, so it's not like transit operators are getting a free pass in Exton.)
At the same time, it might not be a bad idea for agents from the Inspector General's office or plainclothes SEPTA police officers to observe the operators along the 118 to make sure they're following the traffic laws.
Perhaps if the Nether Providence police started cracking down on reckless driving by operators, that might serve as more of a wake-up call to SEPTA operators instead of allowing township officals to take a page out of the Philadelhphia City Council playbook and stage a hearing for the sake of grandstanding.