SILVERLINER V UPDATE ... WE HOPE
In a rare meeting, the SEPTA Board's "Committe of the Whole" will meet on Thursday to listen to a presentation regarding the ongoing Silverliner V project. The meeting will be held in the board room at 1234 Market starting at 10:30am. This is the first time that I can recall such a meeting of this committee (which, in effect, is the full board, but don't expect any items to be voted on here). Two years ago, DVARP blasted SEPTA for holding a similar presentation out of public view.
FIRST PUBLIC HEARING OF THE YEAR
The first SEPTA Public Hearing of the year will take place on Tuesday, March 16 at the Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 6376 City Av, Philadelphia, to accept public comments on the re-routing of the northbound 65 bus to directly serve the 63 St/Malvern Av loop. The hearing begins at 1:30pm.
YET ANOTHER WEB GEM
The good news on the internet front is that the route maps of selected eliminated routes and a mystery schedule for a "Route 85" have been removed from the SEPTA web site.
The bad news?
Apparently when someone posted the northbound P&W schedules, they left off one very important timepoint...
The 69 St Terminal.
[Editor's note: As of Wednesday, 19 February, this was corrected to include the 69 St Terminal timepoint.]
SILLY SEASON BEGINS
TWU Local 234 president (at least for this week) Jean Alexander and Fearless Leader launched what is often known as the "Silly Season" - aka the contract negotiations between TWU and SEPTA. The collective bargaining agreement covering City Transit Division employees expires March 15.
Friday's Inquirer report gave the impression that this was more of a love-in rather than the start of a traditionally stressful period for management, employees, and the riding public. Following the traditional handshake after the exchange of proposals, Alexander and Fearless Leader embraced.
Ah, but there's more...
Still, asked what they expect between now and March 15 when the contract expires with about 4,700 city bus drivers, cashiers and mechanics, (SEPTA General Manager Faye L.M.) Moore and Alexander both spoke of a relationship forged over the last year as they fiercely lobbied for more transit funding in Harrisburg.
"I like the spirit in this room today," Moore, 53, said after trading contract proposals with Alexander. "We have worked together and we will work together."
Alexander, 67, said: "I am really confident we will be able to do this contract and things will work out well."
Too bad I was tied up in Media on Monday morning, otherwise I would've loved to have seen that scene. Meanwhile, Alexander offered a gem that has moved to the front of the "Richard Maloney Under-statement of the Year" award.
"We all know a strike is not good for anybody," Alexander said.
Duh. As if some poor schmuck from Fishtown actually thought a SEPTA strike was a good idea...
In any case, the big issue in this round of negotiations appears to be medical benefits and pensions. With Harrisburg in their annual "Let's bitch about other irrelevant things while the budget goes unresolved" portion of the legislative season, SEPTA's June 30 deadline for passing a budget, and the union's March 15 contract deadline, there's talk that in addition to the traditional one-week negotiation period extension, that contract talks could stretch out for nealry a year, depending on what the legislature and Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet) decides to do.
There's also the domino affect involving TWU-represented operators and mechanics at Frontier - whose contract expires on April 15 - and the UTU Local 1594 represented operators and TWU-represented mechanics at Red Arrow - those contracts expire on April 1 - there's always the slim possibility that one of those two divisions could go out on strike if things get dicey with the CTD negotiations.
It's probably too early to start breaking out the strike plans, but that could always change in a few weeks.
ANOTHER CRY FOR HELP
The Phoenix presented a strong editorial supporting Rendell's preference to link future increases in the gas tax for highways to funding increases for mass transit. Yet, the legislature would rather travel to the far reaches of Canada rather than increase taxes in an election year. Stay tuned...
TRESPASSER DEATH RULED SUICIDE
A trespasser was struck and killed by an R7 train Wednesday evening. Details have been sketchy over the past few days (or they've been scattered among different news sources), however Philadelphia Police reported that a female was struck by the train shortly after 6:00pm (the train involved is believed to be the #4656 from Trenton). Click here for more details (warning: some of the details are not for the squeamish).