Friday, April 30, 2004


For the third time in the past few years, SEPTA is about to initiate construction at the Exton Rail Station on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale. Today, SEPTA and/or Amtrak worker took the pathway leading to the outbound platform out of service, though the steps are still available. A temporary platform to the east of the existing platform was installed last week. This is the third time since at least 1995 that there has been construction of platforms at Exton, with the last platform rehab taking place two years ago.


A group known as the Middletown Conservancy is leading the drive to restore the R3 Media/Elwyn line all the way back to West Chester, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.

"There are good economic reasons for refurbishing the whole line now," said Susan C. Graham, a township resident who is treasurer of the 24-year-old environmental organization. "It is not economically feasible, nor is it practical, to continue widening roadways to accommodate an ever-increasing number of automobiles," she said. Daily Times

Support for R3 restoration to West Chester was (in theory) boosted by a 2000 report that estimated an additional 3,000 riders per year if the service were restored all the way to West Chester. The current SEPTA capital budget proposes restoring R3 service as far west as Wawa, near US 1.

You can certainly imagine how happy students at West Chester and Cheyney University would be if there was a direct rail link to and from Center City which doesn't involved taking an often unreliable bus (the 104) and transferring to the El at 69 St Terminal. There's also a sizable number of WCU students who live in Delaware County that are presumably close enough the existing R3 line. It's not as though there wouldn't be a market for the expansion, right?

Ah, but leave it to SEPTA's Ministry of Mis-Information Richard Maloney to poke holes through such a dream...

Maloney said the R3 in terms of ridership "... is second only to the R5 which goes through the Main Line.

"So it is a very popular line," he said. "In terms of its return on investment in service, it doesn't make a profit - none of these lines do." No such commuter line in the country is profitable; "they all have to be subsidized.

"We know that there's a lot of interest in extending the line from Elwyn to West Chester," Maloney said. "But at the moment at least, it's not in our formal long-term plan." A feasibility study would have to be done first for an extension to West Chester to determine what the potential ridership would be, he said.
Daily Times

Right. Elwyn/Wawa-to-West Chester, which has most of it's infrastructure in place - the tracks are operable, while the catenary structure is in place, if not in operable condition - is not in the long-term plan, but restoring service between Fox Chase and "the other" Newtown is, despite most of the tracks being removed and reports of right-of-way breaches along the line. Maybe West Chester should declare itself part of Bucks or Montgomery Counties. That's probably the only way rail service will come back to the only county seat in the Philadelphia suburbs without adequate rail access OR an adequate connection to the Regional Rail system (and, please, don't tell me that the 104/El combination is adequate).


As was hinted at last week, SEPTA and PennDOT appear to have finally come to their senses regarding the controversial $chuylkill Valley rail corridor.

The Inquirer reported in today's editions that SEPTA and Norfolk Southern, which owns the right-of-way between Norristown and Wyomissing, are looking into the possibility of NS operating the rail line. This is one option being considered by the task force led by Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet) and U.S. Rep. James Gerlach (R-Pa./6th). Other options include operating 30 minute peak and 60 minute off-peak service as opposed to service levels that were to have doubled.

The costs of the line would also be dramatically reduced from the current $2 billion (and rising) price tag to between the $500 million-$700 million range.

The operating plan would involve a one-seat ride between Reading and Philadelphia, however an engine change from diesel locomotives to electric locomotives, presumably at Norristown.

If SEPTA and NS sign off on this plan, it would mark a major shift away from the boondoggle known as "MetroRail", which would've become nothing more than a glorified trolley operating over the entire corridor.

"This is a Chevy type of approach instead of a Rolls-Royce approach," Norfolk Southern regional vice president Craig Lewis said yesterday. "Everybody knows that a two-seat ride will not have the potential of a one-seat ride."

The agreement, awaiting signature by both Norfolk Southern and SEPTA general manager Faye Moore, represents a sea change for both partners.

Under prior SEPTA general manager Jack Leary, plans to electrify service to Reading and run light-rail vehicles on new track ran afoul of turf and safety concerns by Norfolk Southern. With political static and high costs in the way, that plan failed to gain Federal Transit Administration approval.

"The two sides went at each other like gladiators in a Roman arena," Lewis said. "The attitude now is, we have to look at circumstances, evaluate them, and cooperate."

Added Chris Patton, chief of long-range planning for SEPTA: "We are making progress."

Well, gee, what took you so long to figure that out? Maybe it was the FTA's rejection of the MetroRail scheme that forced SEPTA to wake up and get real...


A man believed to be homeless is facing assault charges after a scuffle broke out at the Bridge-Pratt El terminal Wednesday morning. According to CBS 3, three SEPTA "rent-a-cops" attempted to remove the drifer from the terminal. Police say that the suspect was ordered to leave the terminal after he allegedly "began to make a nuisance of himself" in front of hundreds of passengers. A fight between the suspect and the officers resulted in both the suspect and one officer being taken to Frankford Hospital; the officer suffered a minor leg injury, while the suspect was being treated after being maced. SEPTA officials told CBS 3 that the suspect was not a commuter. Police did not identify the suspect.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


NJ Transit will be testing a diesel MU trainset on the shuttle connecting downtown Princeton with the Princeton Jct NEC station (the line often referred to as the "Dinky") all-day today (Thursday) and tomorrow until noon. The DMU set had been previously tested on the Tri-Rail system in South Florida.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


The 5th batch of New Flyer diesel low floors are now scheduled to arrive on SEPTA property starting this summer. At the April SEPTA Board "Rubber-Stamp" meeting, the board approved a change in the contract which would change the delivery date of the 5851-5950 series of buses from April 1, 2005 to July 1, 2004. That will accellerate the retirement of the remaining Neoplan EB and some Neoplan EI buses by the end of the summer. The change in delivery date, along with a spec change from a particulate filter to a catalytic converter will reduce the contract cost by nearly $400,000. There's no word just yet as to where the 5800s will be assigned, but Comly would probably be at the top of the list.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


The two nitwits who tried to escape from a bank robbery in Royersford via the 99 bus two months ago pled not guilty to charges earlier this week at Norristown Courthouse, according to the Pottstown Mercury.

James Thomas Roberts, 38, of Philadelphia, will be charged with robbery, receiving stolen property, theft, simple assault and criminal use of a communication facility (whatver the hell that means). Allison L. Stephens, 44, of Royersford and/or Lansdale, is charged with aiding a crime, hindering apprehension or prosecution, and receiving stolen property.

Roberts and Stephens allegedly robbed the National Penn Bank in Royersford on February 6. The two genius thiefs attempted to escape on a Norristown-bound 99 bus. One of the tellers at the bank managed to slip in a GPS device that tracked where they were. Police later caught up with the bus at Egypt and Trooper Rds in Lower Providence.

Moral of this story: Crime doesn't pay, especially if you take SEPTA...

Friday, April 23, 2004


The annual hearings on SEPTA's Capital Budget and long term program will take place on Monday, May 24 at SEPTA Headquarters (1234 Market St). The hearing will be split into two sessions, starting at 11:00am and 5:00pm. The capital budget document (requires Adobe Acrobat reader) is available for review at the SEPTA web site.


As reported yesterday, the Route 207/WHIRL bus in the Exton area will be discontinued at the end of service next Saturday. The funding from West Whiteland Township for the WHIRL - courtesy of a CMAQ grant - expires at the end of the month. Due to the poor ridership counts on the line, the township apparently decided not to continue to fund the service. The only area that would directly lose service would be the Indian King area off of Boot Rd; all other areas served by the WHIRL have alternate service available via the 92, 204, or Krapf's Route A service.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


It appears that the three year experiement in West Whiteland Township known as the Whril (SEPTA Route 207) may be coming to an end within the next couple of weeks. The new R5 Paoli/Thorndale timetable and Route 204 timetable both make no mention of the township-supported, SEPTA-managed line, which had suffered from very poor ridership. There has been no official announcement from SEPTA, however just looking at these two timetables indicates that the service is done. The WHIRL connected residential neighborhoods in the south end of the township with the Oaklands Corporate Center, Whiteland Towne Center, Exton Square Mall, Target, and Main Street at Exton. The service had been funded by a CMAQ grant to West Whiteland, however, that grant expires in May. The cost of the service, compared with the low ridership, will likely force the Board of Supervisors to not continue to fund the service.

It is interesting to note that SEPTA goes out of it's way to promote the Bucks County TMA operated shuttle buses on that connect with the R2 Warminster (Warminster RUSH), R3 West Trenton (Street Rd RUSH), and R5 Lansdale-Doylestown (Doylestown DART), not to mention the Partnership TMA bus shuttles (the Lansdale HOP and Community Coaster shuttle), with special boxes within the timetables, did no such thing for the WHIRL. In fact, both SEPTA and the TMA of Chester County have done very little to promote this line over the past several months.


It's that time of the year again. SEPTA's Regional Rail timetables will be changing on Monday. This also marks a rare occasion when SEPTA actually coordinated its timetable change with Amtrak. The highlights involve mostly minor time adjustments on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line and the R7 Chestnut Hill East line, and mid-day adjustments on both R3 branches - Media/Elwyn and West Trenton - to accomodate catenary maintenance projects on both branches. There are also other timetable changes "to accommodate for increased ridership at various stations and better separation between departing trains." (Translation: we're padding the schedules.)

A full analysis of the timetable changes will be posted within the next few days.


The Daily News appears to have the same communication system that was made famous in colonial times. Whatever that is, I have no idea as I wasn't alive at that time, but be that as it may, nearly two weeks after SEPTA announced it's financial status, the Daily News finally got around to running a story on it. It's understandable why they're a little bit behind the curve; they didn't want a little story on SEPTA to detract from their current mission: Disrespect and insult President Bush at all costs, no matter what he does. (The DN's position seems to be very simple: Bush could create peace in the Middle East and he'd still get ripped by this ultra-liberal, anti-Bush, anti-war birdcage-liner that passes as a newspaper. Okay, President Bush has made some mistakes, and I wish he could've admitted something at his press conference last week, but I trust him to be president more than I trust John Kerry. But that's another rant...)

Anyway, there's really nothing new in this article, other than several quotes from SEPTA's Minister of Mis-Information Richard Maloney.


For the second consecutive month, Fearless Leader did not provide a report during the SEPTA Board's "rubber-stamp" meeting. This month, however, she did turn her time over to AGM of Operations/Excuses Patrick Nowakowski, who gave a detailed status report on the sorry state of the on-time performance on SEPTA's Regional Rail system.

But first, the good news (such as it is). SEPTA reported it's trains were on-time 91 percent of the time last month, which marks what SEPTA had set as a mediocre (at best) annual goal. This marks the first time in nearly 2 years that on-time performance on the Regional Rail system topped 90 percent. Next month's performance will probably be impacted the system-wide shut down at Market East earlier this month. Now, back to the commentary...

After rattling off several excuses ranging from Amtrak's poor track condition and repair work along the Northeast Corridor, the bugs in the new centralized control center, the Rail Power Project, catenary failures, weather problems, slippery rail conditions, the CSX derailment at Neshaminy, and recent reports of suspicious items (particularly the April 1 incident at Market East), Nowakowski presented a chart showing the on-time records for all weekday trains in the system between December and March (a chart that happens to be posted in the employee room at Suburban Station behind the Passenger Dis-services office - and is in plain view to the public).

Nowakowski then reviewed a sample run (#302) to break down the performance of that individual run, indicating a difference in performance between the regular engineer and replacement engineers, which seemed harmless enough. Until BLET rep Tom Dorricott identified that run as his own. One couldn't help but think that it was a deliberate attempt by SEPTA to call out one of it's more vocal critics.

To be fair, some of these issues are out of SEPTA's control, and improvement is not only anticipated, it should be expected from the management, which has allowed not only the Regional Rail system to become as mediocre as the Phillies (I'm convinced that Fearless Leader and the rest of the Rotating Resumes at 1234 Market have swapped places with Phillies management), but also the bus operations side as well - not just in the city, but in the suburbs as well (and I've documented enough of these problems that I don't feel like going over it again, at least not right now)...

In other "rubber-stamp" related news:

  • SEPTA approved a controversial contract to Viacom Outdoor to continue to serve as the advertising provider for SEPTA's bus and rail fleet, which would result in a loss of nearly $10 million in revenue to SEPTA. SEPTA was forced to enter into this agreement after the FTA rejected SEPTA's original plan to offer Viacom a 5-year extension of the contract. Board Vice Chariman James Schwartzman voted against the item "in protest" of the FTA's handing of the contract. He also noted that the new deal would result in $40 million less in revenue to SEPTA over the next 5 years as SEPTA enters a major financial crisis. Today's Inquirer offers more details on the deal.
  • The Board ratified contracts for City and Suburban employees represented by TWU 234 and UTU 1594. The respective unions have already ratified the one-year deals.
  • The Board also entered into a 25-year with Chester County regarding use of the soon-to-be-built West Chester parking garage/transportation center at 220 W Market St. The parking deck is being built as part of the construction of a new criminal justice center across the street from the proposed garage site. Once construction begins, SEPTA will be forced to detour buses such that no service will be available along Gay and Market Sts between High and New Sts. This was approved at a "special meeting" prior to the regular meeting. The county is expected to take action shortly, allowing construction to begin later this year.
  • During the public comment session, TWU president Jean Alexander recapped the union's activities in lobbying Harrisburg for more funding for SEPTA and other transit systems in Pennsylvania. Board member Herman Wooten suggested that the TWU seek help from other labor unions for the cause, a suggestion that Alexander noted was already being done.
  • John Thomas Cooper, a DVARP officer (but speaking on his own behalf), hinted that a plan for the $chuylkill Valley corridor would involve a transfer at either Norristown or Port Kennedy/Valley Forge. The actual proposal is slated to be formally introduced tomorrow, though if one could read between the lines of Cooper's comments, it would appear that SEPTA may operate electrified service to Valley Forge and diesel service to Reading. Cooper also criticized SEPTA (and, to an extent, PennDOT) for holding strategy sessions outside of public view. Cooper's comments on $chuylkill Valley are also articulated in a letter to the editor in today's Inquirer.
  • DVARP President Don Nigro noted that electrification of the entire corridor from Norristown to Reading would cost an additional $100 million, and advocated either a dual-mode or engine change option as opposed to a transfer. That noted, however, Nigro also presented DVARP's opinion that SEPTA should seek an alternative for the corridor that would be "something that's cost effective for the region."
  • Outspoken consumer advocate (now working for Emperor Street) Lance Haver offered a brief statement offering support for SEPTA's proposed operating budget, as did Tom Hutt of the Northwest Philadelphia Campaign for Public Transportation. Hutt noted that SEPTA's tactics regarding the budget this year are less confrontational against the ridership at large than they were last year, instead commending SEPTA for focusing its collective energy on Harrisburg.


A 19-year-old Glenolden man was struck and killed yesterday in an apparent suicide attempt near Lansdowne Station. According to news reports, the victim laid his head down on the tracks just north of the station before being hit by inbound #350 (Elwyn to West Trenton). The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The incident occured at around 11:07am yesterday morning, and forced a bus-bridge to be implemented on the R3 for several hours.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


The SEPTA Bus Roadeo will take place on Saturday, July 10 at the Philadelphia Park racetrack parking lot in Bensalem Township. Expect the usual bus displays and celebrity competition to be part of this year's event (though this year's celebrity field can't be any worse than last year's).

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Apparently, not everyone had a good experience on the Broad Street Line after the opening week of Phillies games at "The Bank". According to reports from one of our spotters, immediate post-game service on Monday could be charitiably described as scattered and disorganized. At around 4:30pm, a white-shirt reportedly told our spotter that no "special" trains would be operated because it was close to the start of the PM peak period. As the spotter and other passengers squeezed into a local train, a train on the opposite track opened up and the white-shirt announced that the train on 4 track would be an express. By the time the announcement was made, the local was set to depart with a full load. The local train wasn't able to pick up any local passengers at the South Broad stations.

As suspected, Sunday had to be a fluke...


In today's Daily News, BLE Legislative Representative Tom Dorricott wrote a letter to the editor on the controversial Silverliner V contract. It's pretty much the same thing he's been saying from the get-go, not that it's entirely inaccurate...


As promised, more details regarding the FY 2005 Annual Service Plan became available at today's public meeting:

  • ROUTE 7: Re-route to serve the Quartermaster Plaza on Oregon Av between 22 and 23 Sts; southbound service would operate via S 23 St, Passyunk Av, S 24 St, and Oregon Av; northbound service would operate via Oregon, S 24 St, Passyunk, and S 22 St
  • ROUTE 19: Short-turns terminating at Krewstown Rd/Gregg St would be extended to Roosevelt Blvd/Grant Av to serve shopping centers and other traffic generators along Grant
  • ROUTE 25: Would be extended to serve the Columbus Crossing Plaza via Delaware Av, Snyder Av, Weccaccoe St, Oregon Av, and Delaware Av
  • ROUTE 113: New service to the Rivertown office complex, operating via W 3 St, Flower St, Seaport Dr, and Highland Av
  • ROUTE 114: Re-routed to serve Granite Run Mall via Pennell Rd (PA 452) over portions of the present 116; service between Darby and 9 St/Yarnall St, Chester would be unchanged; service to Granite Run would operate via W 9 St, Engle St, Concord Rd, I-95 Industrial Park, Concord Rd, Dutton Mill Rd, and PA 452 with a diversion to Neumann College via Concord Rd; new Sunday service would operate within Aston Twp
  • ROUTE 116: Eliminate entire route, with portions to be covered by re-structured 114 and 117 service
  • ROUTE 117: Unchanged between Granite Run Mall and Chester Transportation Center; alternating trips would operate over the present 117/119 routing in Brookhaven and Upland and over the present 116 routing via Edgmont Av and W 22 St in Parkside; service would be taken off of W 7 St, instead operating via W 9 St en route to I-95 Industrial Park
  • ROUTE 118: Service between Newtown Square and King of Prussia would be eliminated; service in Nether Providence would be re-routed out of Garden City and operate via Chestnut Parkway, Waterville Rd, and Brookhaven Rd
  • ROUTE 119: Service between West Chester and Cheyney would be eliminated; service between Cheyney and Chester would operate via Cheyney Rd, Baltimore Pike, US 322, Naamans Creek Office Park, Furey Rd, Chichester Av, Chelsea Pkwy, Chichester Av, Huddle Av, Ridge Av, W 9 St, Highland Av, W 3 St, Flower St, and W 7 St to Chester Transportation Center; present routing to Crozer-Chester Medical Center would remain unchanged
  • ROUTE 314: Service to be cut back to operate between West Chester and Goshen Corporate Park; additional service and new routings would be contingent on continued funding support from Chester County

In addition, SEPTA proposes to:

  • Review strategies to improve the economic performance on the 35, 77, 88, and 121 in the City Transit Division and on the 92/133, 111, 120, and 125 in the suburbs
  • Revise the Suburban Transit Service Standards and Process Document to add provisions for station boarding levels and spacing, and to update the various methodologies associated with the process
  • Increase the threshold for ridership counts Regional Rail stations from 50 to 75 daily passengers

Sunday, April 18, 2004


First the good news:

  • The Phillies came from behind to beat the Montreal/San Juan/(your town here) Expos at The Bank 5-4, thanks to a "go-homer" (apologies to ESPN's John Anderson) from Penn grad/humorist/Phillies utility-outfielder Doug Glanville in the bottom of the 9th.
  • Of all the high prices at The Bank for food and other concessions ($10 for a "commemerative program", $6.75 for a cheese-steak - either from Tony Luke's or Geno's - is worth it. Overall, the food is a hell of a lot better at The Bank than at The Vet.
  • The Broad Street Line actually looked a little organized for the first time in the past few years. There wasn't much of a crowd as only two trains were parked on 4 track at Pattison (though a local was pulling in just as an express was ready to pull out). All headhouses at Pattison were operational today.
  • The Broad Street special express to Fern Rock that I rode actually felt like an express. Incidentially, there are new electronic block signs being retro-fit onto the B-IV cars, as noticed by the lead car in my train (667/95 block).
  • Even the infamous 4219 block was running relatively close to schedule as the 6:05pm trip was ONLY 3 minutes late (at times, departures on this trip can be 5-10 minutes late), arriving in West Chester only 1 minute late (again, an improvement). Of course, 4219 block was covered by 5589, so that may have helped.

Now, the bad news:

  • The 12:05pm 104 to 69 St (5305/4215 block) left New and Market at 12:04pm, which indicated to me that this driver was running way ahead of schedule. Naturally, he practically dogged it along the Pike through Willistown and Edgmont. To make things worse, there was no working a/c on the bus.
  • The reason I was stuck taking the 12:05pm trip was because I had dozed off when I got home from work, thus oversleeping. When I got to 69 St, I had to take a cab to The Bank, which seemed to take forever (even though it was really about 20-25 minutes, and cost around $20-25) thanks to a slow cabbie (who I'm convinced would get placed on the 104 if SEPTA hired him). At least I didn't miss the opening pitch.
  • That stupid "Race to the Vet" is back. Popped up in the bottom of 5th inning when the Expos changed pitchers in the middle of Placido Polanco's at bat. Nice to see your fare dollars hard at work.
  • While waiting for the El, I noticed that there were 5 SEPTA "rent-a-cops" loitering by the clothespin at 15-Market. You know, it would be nice if they actually would've gone into the station area to help with possible crowd control.

Let's hope that the positives observed today are a trend that SEPTA is actually going to operate decent service on the Broad Street Line this season...

Saturday, April 17, 2004


A Broad Street Owl bus was struck by a car late last night at Broad and Tasker in South Philadelphia, according to WPVI-TV. Few details are available, however, four people were reported injured. The car was eastbound on Tasker when it struck the bus.


Streetcar service on the 15/Girard will resume on the week of June 14th, according to postings in one of my other groups. Initially, service on the 15 will be provided by the LRVs normally used on the subway-surface lines, as there are presently only 8 PCC-II cars on the property. As part of the summer picks, the 10 will return to Callowhill after nearly 15 years at Elmwood. In addition, approximately 30 LRVs will be moved from Elmwood to Callowhill to fill the runs on the 10 and 15.

Friday, April 16, 2004


In what little time that I have right now, here are a few items of interest:

  • In the current capital budget, there was a proposal as part of the US 202/Section 300 Congestion Mitigation Strategy that would've introduced two new bus routes - the 205 between Paoli Rail Station and office parks near Great Valley and the 306 between Great Valley and Chadds Ford. Introduction of the 205 appears likely within a matter of months, pending funding from PennDOT; the 306 might be introduced soon, however that route may be contingent on a proposal by DART First State to possibly extend the #2/Concord Pike bus north into Chadds Ford. Nothing on the DART rumor is set in stone, but (1) it would a partial replacement for the 314, if those cuts are implemented, and (2) it would re-establish a link between West Chester and Delaware that ended with the elimination of the 202 bus in 1999.
  • As Harry Foster reported in the guestbook today, a gas main leak at Garret Rd and Market St near 69 St Terminal forced all West Chester Pike bus routes along with the 107, 109, 110, 111, and 122 to board in North Terminal as opposed to West Terminal. In addition, shuttle buses were operated on the 101 and 102. As suspected, communication to the passengers was typical for SEPTA - it wasn't good at all. More information will be available as time permits.
  • After months of foot-dragging by SEPTA and/or Chester County (depending on which spin you believe), an agreement was reached between the two parties that will finally allow construction of a parking garage/transit center across from the Dague Building in downtown West Chester, according to the Inquirer. When construction finally begins, the 92, 104, and 314 (the 119 may be history by then) will not operate along Gay or Market Sts between High and New Sts, effectively cutting off the west end of downtown.

    A public meeting will take place on Tuesday at 10:00am to outline the FY 2005 Annual Service Plan. In the city, the biggest changes involve extending the 25 to a new shopping complex on S Delaware Av near Snyder and re-routing the 7 to a separate complex, also in South Philadelphia. The big changes in the suburbs involves restructuring of several routes out of Chester. To summarize the proposed changes:

    • The 113 would be re-routed to serve a new office complex in Chester City (yes, you read that right, a new office complex in Chester) via 3 St, Flower St, Seaport Dr, and Highland Av
    • The 114 would remain unchanged between Darby and Chester, however, west of Chester, the 114 would be re-routed to serve the I-95 Industrial Park and Granite Run Mall via 9 St, Engle St, Concord Rd, Neumann College, PA 452, Baltimore Pike, and Riddle Hospital; this would essentially replace portions of the 116; Sunday service within Aston Twp would be added
    • The 116 would be eliminated completely, with portions replaced by both the 114 and 117
    • The 117 would replace the 116 routing via Edgmont Av (PA 352) and 22 St within Brookhaven and Chester; between Chester Transportation Center and I-95 Industrial Park, service would operate via 9 St to Highland Av instead of 7 St within Chester.
    • The 118 would be completely cut-back to Newtown Square, eliminating all service between Newtown Square and Paoli; the proposed re-routings in Nether Providence Twp would also be addressed
    • The 119 would no longer operate between West Chester and Cheyney; service between Cheyney and Chester would now operate over portions of the 114 between Boothwyn and Chester; the 119 would also no longer duplicate the 117; service would originate at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, then follow the present routing to 7 St/Flower St, operating via Flower St, 3 St, and Highland Av to 9 St/Highland Av, before following the 114/314 routing between 9 St/Highland Av and Concordville via Chichester Av and Conchester Hwy (US 322) before operating to Cheyney via Baltimore Pike and Cheyney Rd
    • The 314 would be scaled back to operate between West Chester and Goshen Corporate Park, with a route restructuring within the West Chester area contingent on Chester County's continued financial contribution

    In addition, modifications to the Regional Rail and Suburban Transit proposals are also part of the Annual Service Plan. More details will be posted after Tuesday's meeting.


    While waiting for a 14 bus en route to yesterday's Lower Bucks route changes hearing in Trevose, I came across signs near the restrooms at Bridge-Pratt terminal that pretty much reflects the lack of simple quality control that exists at certain parts of SEPTA. This is a transcription of the signs, as they were written:

    Date: 4/13/ 2004

    Schedule hours' for "CLEANING" Public rest rooms' will be as follower

    Morning hours: 9:00 a/m to 10:00 a/m
    Afternoon hours: 12:00 p/m to 12:30 p/m

    Thank you for your patents and operation.


    FTC Management

    Looks like I picked a bad day to forget my camera. If any of my Northeast/Lower Bucks correspondents - or anyone who passes through Bridge-Pratt in the near future - happens to have their cameras with them, a picture would be greately appreciated. Of course, the signs may be gone by the time this is posted.

    In any case, I would have thought that even though SEPTA is in a $70 million hole, they could at least afford a proof-reader...

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    11 AND 36 DIVERTED

    The 11 and 36 are being diverted off of Woodland Av between the 40 St portal and Woodland Shops (at 49 St) until early June due to track renewal. A shuttle bus will operate weekdays between 6:00am and 6:00pm between 40 St Portal and 49 St/Woodland Av.

    This is the first of a two-phase project in which Woodland between 40 St and 58 St. Phase two - which will take place starting in June - will involve diverting the 11 off Woodland between 49 St and 58 St. Let's hope they also get around to patching some of those potholes west of 58 St while they're at it.


    And now, a couple of items from Nether Providence Township, which could very well be a local translation for "Darby With Trees" (so named because of the often contentious and partisan bickering between the township's board of supervisors which is often on par with similar conduct in Darby Borough; one board member actually used this term as a cautionary measure, but read further and you may see that the warnings may not be being heeded).

    The News of Delaware County reported that SEPTA plans to remove the pedestrian overpass at the Wallingford Rail Station. The fast-tracking of these plans may also have been helped by the fact that SEPTA's Minister of Mis-Information Richard Maloney just so happens to be a resident of the Wallingford district of "Darby With Trees", but residents and some township board members are pleased that SEPTA was addressing this issue.

    Railroad tie and surface work has begun between Secane and Elwyn. After the pedestrian overpass structure is removed, inter-track fencing will be installed from October 2004 through January 2005.

    The existing pedestrian track crossing will stay and the fencing will extend about 200 feet past the existing passenger loading platforms, Maloney said.

    He said in the spring of 2005 a new technological crosswalk would also be installed.

    "It will have sound alerts and lights showing when a train is coming," he said.

    (Township supervisor Sara) Petrosky asked if the platform could be raised because it is difficult for passengers to step off the train.

    Maloney said he would take the issue back to the general manager.

    Petrosky was pleased with SEPTA's new safety improvements.

    "SEPTA was very responsive to this issue and I just wanted to thank you," she said.
    News of Delaware County

    Now, for the other hot button topic in "Darby With Trees".

    In last Wednesday's Delaware County Daily Times (article was not posted on-line), township officials were relieved to learn that the proposal by SEPTA to re-route the 118 in the Garden City district of the township was put on hold and would be addressed as part of the upcoming Annual Service Plan.

    SEPTA Treasurer Joe Casey (who oversees the Service Planning department as part of the Finance Division) sent an email to State Rep. and former SEPTA Board member Tom Killion (R-168) that cancelled the Putnam Village re-routing while also taking the 118 out of Garden City. The 118 would instead be routed via Chestnut Parkway, Waterville Road, and Brookhaven Road. The township board along with Putnam Village residents, Killion and State Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-9th) had been opposed to the original re-routing plan.

    A public meeting on the Annual Service Plan is scheduled to take place at 1234 Market next Tuesday (time to be announced later when I get more information), with the actual tariff/public hearing process expected to take place in May.

    Township board member Robert O'Connor, who lives in the Putnam Village development, had led the opposition to re-routing the line through his neighborhood in a classic case of NIMBYism, earing praise from one of his constituents.

    "I'm very happy the bus (route) has been stopped," said Donna Epright, a resident who helped coordinate opposition to the move.

    Epright also said that residents have "overwhelming" gratitude and appreciation for (O'Connor)...

    "He got the job done through his relentless efforts to communicate with our residents individually and aggregately, and he succeeded in getting our message" to Pileggi, Killion, and SEPTA's Board of Directors, she said...

    On the other hand, Epright said the residents were "disappointed and embarassed" by the "insensitivity and unprofessionalism" of some township (board members) who "did not want to hear from us on this issue and claimed to have no involvement or ability to influence SEPTA's decision.

    Epright said she was referring to (board member) John Kennedy, who represents the Garden City section, and board President Tom Gallagher.
    Daily Times

    This is where the "Darby With Trees" reference gains its relevance.

    The article went on to point out that both Kennedy and Gallagher were critical of Putnam Village residents who had complained to them regarding the proposed 118 re-routing. Gallagher claimed that he had recieved e-mails from angry residents at work and threatening phone calls at home. Kennedy had complained about the same thing, but also added that "what he found strange about the phone calls and e-mails was that 'most of them were directed personally toward me. Like I have this magic wand, where this is my doing.'" Daily Times

    Epright also claimed that some board members (though she didn't mention Kennedy and Gallagher by name, it appears they were among those involved) used some rather colorful language to complain about the Putnam Village residents after the meeting, which airs on the township's public access channel.

    "They used more obsecnities over the airways than the filthiest R-rated movie," she said. "Using countless f-words to describe their feelings toward their fellow board members and Wallingford Valley (Putnam Village) residents, they showed their true colors." Daily Times

    Okay, it may not be as enormous of a story as, say, the ongoing feud between Darby Borough Mayor Paula Brown and the majority on Borough Council who hate her (and, according to news accounts, have even less of a clue about democracy than Don Pasquale), but bear in mind that this is the same township which couldn't get their act straight on how to add a 7th member to the board last year (a move which required court intervention).

    Hence, Nether Providence = "Darby With Trees"...


    On Wednesday, Fearless Leader took her "Pleading Poverty Tour" to Harrisburg, where she announced that the proposed FY 2005 Operating Budget will not feature any fare hikes or service cuts ... for now.

    The Inquirer reported in last Thursday's editions that Fearless Leader won't make the same mistakes she made last year by proposing the now-infamous DRACONIAN SERVICE CUTS AND FARE HIKES at last year's operating budget hearings.

    SEPTA will host public hearings next month to discuss options for closing the budget gap, "including steep fare increases and significant service reductions," the agency said in a statement. Without an infusion of state aid, riders can anticipate a second round of public hearings in the fall detailing specific cuts and fare increases, Moore said.

    "We are not seeking a fare increase or service cuts, because to do either would destroy public transportation in our area," Moore said.


    But, she added, "I will raise fares or cut service" if the state fails to provide more money. Inquirer

    This year's apparent tactics include blaming Harrisburg for not making public transportation a major priority. Harrisburg, in turn, is blaming Washington for not passing a renewal of the TEA-21 act, which was largely responsible for setting guidelines for new capital projects (those same guidelines, by the way, which effectively killed the "MetroRail" scheme SEPTA was trying to sneak through for $chuylkill Valley).

    Meanwhile, Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet) is offering some help, though it's more like healing a gunshot wound with a band-aid.

    State funding for transit has remained relatively flat since 1997. In his fiscal year 2005 budget, Gov. Rendell did boost statewide transit funding in step with inflation, an increase that would amount to about $8 million for SEPTA.

    The Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association, of which SEPTA is a member, has proposed an agenda that includes increasing transit's share of revenue from the state sales tax. Early this year, Rendell said an increase in the state gasoline tax - which would include changes in how the state pays for public transit - could not be expected until after the November election.

    The hearings will take place next month. The budget proposal is available online.

    Meanwhile, KYW NewsRadio reported that DVARP gave it's endorsement to SEPTA's plans.

    Don Nigro, president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, gives this approach thumbs up:

    "It frees up riders to direct their energy and their anger towards Harrisburg rather than at SEPTA. SEPTA needs to make the case that more funding is absolutely needed."

    Nigro believes this strategy avoids scaring riders and instead focuses on state lawmakers:

    "The approach that SEPTA took last year just got a lot of riders alarmed. What we really need to do is just focus the region's attention on Harrisburg appreciating SEPTA, how the workers and residents depend upon it."

    Nigro says SEPTA could simply run the system at full service, then shut it down entirely when the cash runs out. That, he says, would wake up Harrisburg.
    KYW 1060 web site


    U.S. Sen. Alren Specter (RINO*-Pa.) announced that he would seek $25 million in federal funding for the $chuylkill Valley rail line, the Inquirer reported on Saturday. Specter made the announcement at a meeting with officials, including Congressman James Gerlach (R-6th) and Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet). Despite talk of scaling back the concept of the gold-plated "MetroRail" between Philadelphia and Reading, Specter appears to have not gotten the message that the "MetroRail" alternative has already been rejected by the FTA:

    Specter told elected officials at the Center City meeting to scout anew for local funds and determine how much economic impact MetroRail would have on the dozens of communities along the line.

    The $49 million "is not chopped liver," Specter said yesterday. "We're going to keep pushing it."

    Specter said he would seek $25 million for the rail line in the forthcoming six-year federal transportation spending plan, which could be finalized by late spring.

    Meanwhile, as if we needed a reminder, SEPTA Board Member Thomas Jay Ellis (R-Montgomery County/Ballard Spahr) went out of his way to plug Specter's Republican primary battle against Congressman Pat Toomey (R-15th) while plugging $chuylkill Valley at the same time:

    If the project costs $2 billion, the most optimistic scenario of 20 percent state and local contribution would mean $400 million for the project. Montgomery County Commissioner Tom Ellis said yesterday he would look for ways for Philadelphia and its surrounding counties to raise their share of the money. Local reluctance to raise taxes or develop funding proposals for transit has been one of MetroRail's many stumbling blocks.

    "Maybe there are ways we can do it without costing taxpayers too much," said Ellis, who also sits on SEPTA's board.

    Ellis, a Republican, called Specter's support for MetroRail "an example of why we need him. This project can't be built without a senator with his kind of clout."

    In keeping with recent tradition, Fearless Leader has apparently decided not to comment on the project, instead, through SEPTA's Ministry of Mis-Information, punted to PennDOT:

    SEPTA general manager Faye Moore attended yesterday's meeting. Her spokesman, Richard Maloney, referred all questions to Gerlach and Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler. ...

    "The ball is in their court. The need for this railroad is obvious to everyone," Maloney said. "Where is the money going to come from to pay for it?

    Three guesses, and the first two don't count. (A) The taxpayers; (B) the taxpayers; (C) the taxpayers.

    "Specter has been the biggest proponent of this project since day one," Maloney added. "Obviously, he still has a lot of confidence in it."

    That's more than what many of us can offer.

    * - RINO = Republican In Name Only, as many people have noted that Specter doesn't exactly toe the GOP party line, which is probably why I plan to vote for Toomey, who at least is a real Republican, but that's another story...


    Now that my work schedule will permit it, here are a few items that I am just now getting around to post and comment on recent news items such as this one:

    Montgomery Newspapers report that officials in Central Bucks are concerned over the possible closings of the New Britain and Link Belt stations along the R5 Lansdale-Doylestown line as a result of a study published last year by the DVRPC. The study also recommended that Fortuna station also be closed, but that Delaware Valley College station remain open despite low ridership counts. At last year's operating budget hearings in Doylestown, DVC officials had offered to fund the $10,000 needed to cover expenses in lieu of closing the station in the most recent round of cuts. The article also reports that the Bucks County TMA would look into a job access shuttle along the US 202 corridor between Lansdale and Doylestown in the event that the affected stations were to close.

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004


    There have been quite a few articles in recent days regarding safety on SEPTA.

    On Saturday, the Inquirer ran an article on how SEPTA and NJ Transit were attempting to improve security on their respective rail systems, in spite of restrictions on how Homeland Security funding can be spent. Under the current guidelines, transit agencies can not hire police with this special (and very limited) funding, but can only use that funding for capital upgrades and/or training.

    Also on Saturday, the Daily News reported that SEPTA would spend most of it's $6 million Homeland Security allottment for improving the communications system underground. It also noted this interesting statement from SEPTA's Minister of Mis-Information Richard Maloney:

    "We have a huge open [transit] system and that provides extreme vulnerability," Maloney said. "As we deal with a very serious budget crisis one of the areas we will not cut is funding for transit security."

    A SEPTA station worker, who did not want to give his name, said yesterday that his bosses were doing a good job protecting passengers, citing Thursday's quick response of stopping regional rail service due to a computer-bag accidentally left at Market Street station.

    But the worker said more transit officers are needed for the combined effort of watching over criminals who lurk throughout stations at night and spotting suspicious packages.

    Maloney said that due to budget problems, no new transit police will be added in the near future.
    Daily News

    So that means that the 23 officers who were sworn in at the February SEPTA Board "rubber-stamp" session were only replacing officers who left the force?

    In today's Daily News, however, SEPTA did announce that they would be adding two dogs to its K-9 unit for the purposes of detecting potential bombs.

    Monday, April 05, 2004


    SEPTA announced the hearing schedule for the FY 2005 Operating Budget, which would take effect on July 1:

    • Monday, May 10: Council Chambers, Media Courthouse, 201 W Front St
    • Tuesday, May 11: Montgomery County Human Services Center, 1430 DeKalb St, Norristown
    • Wednesday, May 12: West Chester Municipal Building, 401 E Gay St
    • Thursday, May 13: Community Room, Bucks County Court House, Main St/Court St, Doylestown
    • Thursday, May 20: Convention Center, Rm 204 (12 St/Arch St)

    Hearings will begin at 5:00pm at all locations, with an additional morning session at the Convention Center starting at 11:00am. The budget itself is due to be released on the web site later this week.

    An additional round of hearings will focus on potential fare hikes and service cuts.

    Friday, April 02, 2004


    PATCO service was halted during the mid-day hours after a suspicious package was found in the eastbound track area near the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden. The package, which later turned out to be a box of old clothes, was discovered by a PATCO work crew at around 11:50am. Following an initial investigation by DRPA Police, the Camden County Sheriff Department's bomb squad was called in. Service resumed about 90 minutes later.

    Meanwhile, on this side of the river, SEPTA Regional Rail service was suspended for nearly 30 minutes after a suspicious package was found on 3 track at Market East. A passenger noticed what looked like a computer case on the track shortly before 3:30pm. All Regional Rail service was held up until the Philadelphia Police bomb squad determined the package was only a briefcase. Service was restored at 4:05pm, but with major delays throughout the reset of the peak period. (SIDE NOTE: Let's see how SEPTA's Operations/Excuses department spins these delays in the next on-time report.)


    Just when you thought it was safe to go about your business, the controversial Silverliner V contract process rears its ugly head. Again...

    Today's Inquirer reports that Booz Allen Hamilton, the consultants on the Silverliner V contract, criticized United Transit System's plan to build the rail cars in South Philadelphia and also emphasized the lack of U.S. experience of the lead contractor, Korean-based Rotem. The report didn't sit too well with some UTS officials:

    "The critique gives the wrong impression" of the time frame to set up the South Philadelphia plant, said Hats Kageyama, an executive in the United Transit consortium. Workers at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard would install seats, floor covering and other parts on cars largely built in South Korea.

    "It's true we have no experience in the U.S.," said Dong-Hyun Choi, another United Transit official, but the firm has wide "experience in the world market," he said.

    SEPTA, still in defensive mode after the entire affair, didn't comment, though you wouldn't know it from Minister of Mis-Information Richard Maloney's comments:

    SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney would not comment on the Booz Allen report and said The Inquirer was "simply asking negative stuff about UTS, and we don't think it's fair." Inquirer

    Well, hey, I don't think it's fair that SEPTA posted a detour notice for the 130 on the internet when they couldn't be bothered to do the same for the 92 about 2 years ago, but that's another story. By the way, Richie, it's a reporters job to ask tough questions, though it seems that you'd have a problem answering this very difficult question: "What time is it?"


    Maloney said it was now "moot for us to be reviewing or even discussing what we did in the past, because we are beginning with a clean slate." Inquirer

    Sure, it's moot, Minister. At least now, the public won't have to hear about all the back-room dealings that went on involving several board members, a few political big-wigs, and UTS.

    Eventually, SEPTA will get their new Silverliner V cars. By that time, there'll probably be a new president in office ... after President Bush finishes up his second term (not that I have a problem with that at all).

    Thursday, April 01, 2004


    I know this item is a couple of weeks old, but sometimes, in the confusion, I tend to forget to mention items...

    On March 19, at least two subjects stole transfers and an operator's personal belongings at Arrott Terminal while the bus was laying over on the K. The bus involved, 3151, suffered some damage to the destination signs to the point where they couldn't be read. SEPTA Police were allegedly investigating at the time, but no other information has come out regarding this incident.