Wednesday, January 21, 2004


Amid all the hoopla over the Iggles' latest choke job - which has once again made Philadelphia the laughing stock of SportsCenter - PennDOT is now getting involved in the planning of Schuylkill Valley rail service.

The Inquirer reported last week that Gov. Rendell - fresh off his final day as an "analyst" for Comcast SportsNet - identified the long-stalled 62-mile rail boondoggle-in-waiting as one of his highest priorities. Leading the way for the administration is PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler, much to the delight of Fearless Leader:

Biehler is "calling the meetings," (SEPTA GM Faye L.M.) Moore said, referring to Wednesday's gathering, which was lobbied for by Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, whose district includes ailing Chester and Berks County river towns. "We are serving as a space provider."

"Are we happy that Schuylkill Valley Metro is finally being looked at as a state and regional project? Yeah," added Moore, who this month will close a $41 million budget gap and whose agency faces a $70 million shortfall, which could mean further service cuts or a fare increase in the 2005 fiscal year.

Well of course Fearless Leader and the Rotating Resumes at 1234 Market are happy. This is what should've happened from the outset, as SEPTA staff have clearly proven themselves incapable of drafting a reasonable operating and financial plan.

The bad news - at least for those in Upper Montgomery and Berks? The first segment may only go as far as either King of Prussia or Phoenixville, with no guarantee of further extension beyond Phoenixville. And there's no guarnatee to Chester County that the first segment will even make it to Phoenixville.

The plan - referred to as "MetroRail" but in reality was nothing more than a gold-plated trolley - stalled after the Feds told SEPTA that their funding plan (80% Federal/20% State/Local match) would not work for the $2 billion (and rising) scheme. Now, SEPTA is going back to the drawing board and it is hoped that they will come up with a more rational plan.

Of course, if the project doesn't reach Phoenixville in the first phase, I wouldn't be shocked if Chester County's support suddenly disappears.


Another after-effect from the Iggles choke job at that $512 million partially taxpayer funded playpen at 11 St and Pattison Av occured on a 66 bus along Frankford Av.

The Daily News reported that a passenger - an angered Iggles fan - reportedly threw an iceball at a SEPTA driver who was, according to one passenger, allegedly wearing a Carolina Panther jersey.

Passenger Lawrence Coleman said that the two exchanged words, and when the bus driver said, "Stop hating," the Eagles fan said, "Hate this!" and tossed an iceball at her face, causing her to start bleeding.

This raises some interesting questions, to wit: What the hell is a SEPTA employee doing wearing a Panthers jersey in the first place? Never mind that something like this was bound to happen, but isn't there something in the dress code that prohibits bus operators from wearing articles of clothing that are not part of the "official" SEPTA uniform? It's one thing to wear an Iggles hat, but an "enemy" jersey?

The only bright side of this is that the operator wasn't stupid enough to wear a Dallas Cowgirls jersey. Otherwise, this might have escalated into a real ugly scene...

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