Monday, March 22, 2004


Apparently, Jere Downs' article in last Tuesday's Inquirer has made Fearless Leader just a wee bit more sensitve than usual. For the first time in nearly 2 months (actually, since the Iggles did their annual el-foldo against Carolina), Fearless Leader has updated her web page at the official SEPTA web site.

Recently you may have read or heard about a March 16th story written by an over zealous reporter, printed in a local publication, suggesting that SEPTA is seriously considering a 22% fare increase. The reporter knew the Authority was not contemplating an increase of this magnitude, yet, chose to provide misleading information to the public anyway.

Oh, and SEPTA doesn't mislead the public? Yeah, right. Why else would you settle a lawsuit before a lot of high-profile names from 1234 Market get called in to testify?

SEPTA is facing a $70 million projected deficit for Fiscal Year 2005. Over the past 18 months we have been very candid and vocal about our budget problems and our efforts to identify closure measures. In a few weeks our Operating Budget proposal for FY 2005 will be published and public hearings on the subject scheduled. However, at this time, we have not reached any final decisions on the elements of the proposed deficit reduction program.

SEPTA did not create the current state of confusion or alarm about a possible 22% fare increase, but we feel the need to apologize to our riders for the irresponsible actions of the reporter and the publication.

Sounds like somebody at 1234 Market has too much time on her hands. Yet, that's the way Fearless Leader has responded to criticism. Just recall her reaction after DVARP called SEPTA out over the poor on-time performance on the Regional Rail division:

After the meeting, SEPTA General Manager Faye Moore spared a few moments between congratulating champions of SEPTA's annual bus rodeo to address the issue in greater detail.

Moore explained that a large portion of the traffic on SEPTA's regional rail system falls under the control of dispatchers for Amtrak, which has its own schedule of trains to accomodate.

Officials said six of the seven regional rails share some common track with Amtrak throughout the 260-plus miles of the system, though at least 60 percent of that system is owned and controlled by SEPTA.

They said the system has also been subject to several long-term improvement projects on some of its busiest lines that have invariably led to delay.

"I'm not saying we're happy about it," said Moore, who accused Nigro of "Showboating."
Daily News - October 24, 2003

(Click on the October 2003 archives page and scroll down to the October 27 entry "BOARD MEETING RECAP WITH BONUS RANT" for my previous comments on the "showboating" comments.)

Someone's starting to get a little paranoid, eh? Anyway...

For the record (and to recap Tuesday's posting on this), here's what was said:

In the next two weeks, SEPTA brass will privately brief the agency's 15-member board on plans for a fare increase to raise money for the $70 million void projected in the $875 million fiscal 2005 budget, the agency's chief financial officer, Joseph Casey, said yesterday.

How much riders will get socked is not yet known.

SEPTA riders pay a $2 cash fare - among the highest in the nation. A 22 percent increase, to $2.45, would solve the $70 million problem, but that would force the agency into a downward spiral, Casey said.

"You would lose riders on that," he said.

The operative statement is highlighted in boldface. The 22 percent increase (at least based upon what I read) certainly wasn't set in stone.

Perhaps Fearless Leader should stop worrying about what the Inquirer reports and start worrying about how bad service has become since she took over as General Manager.

Case in point: Today at 52 St/Girard Av, right at the start of the PM peak, when southbound service along 52 St from Girard is supposed to operate every 4 to 5 minutes. Between 3:42pm (when I got off the 15) and 4:01pm (when I was finally able to board a southbound 52), there was a grand total of 3 buses that passed by when there are supposed to be 5.

* The first bus had pulled off just before I got to 52 St. As noted, I got to Girard Av at 3:42pm.
* The second bus (5464/9525 block) pulled up at 3:52pm to discharge passengers but not pick up passengers.
* The third southbound bus that arrived at Girard (5263/9510 block) arrived at 4:01pm. Suffice to say that 5263 was SRO between Girard and Market.
* SIDE NOTE: 3222 (9515 block) arrived at 52 St/Market St at 4:10pm, even though Neos from Callowhill are not supposed to be used on the 52.

For those keeping track at home, that's 9-10 minutes between buses, when service levels are supposed to be 4-5 minutes.

And that's just today's example. I'm sure there are a lot of Regional Rail riders who can vouch for how inconsistent performance has been over the last two years. Or some bus riders in West Philadelphia who have similar horror stories after dealing with late or missing weekend buses on the 46. Or the complaints about inconsistent service on the 23 along Germantown Avenue. And so on, and so on...

No comments: