Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Schedules on the Frontier Division will change for most routes, except the 94, 124/125, 201, and 206. All other routes will change on Sunday (93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, and 130), next Tuesday (92, 127, 128, 129, 131, 133, and 304), or on July 10 (91). The big changes are the route re-structurings in Lower Bucks to the 127, 128, 129, and 130 that were the subject of hearings in May and approved at the SEPTA Board's "rubber-stamp" session last week. More information on these changes should be posted soon (and, for the last time, I know I said that about the City and Red Arrow division changes).


Despite the trackwork being done by SEPTA along the upper end of Woodland Av, Dan Geringer of the Daily News (a fully-paid subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee) took a trip down Woodland recently; the results are not for the faint of heart, as noted in Monday's editions:

Fear of losing his front end forced the Daily News Joltmeister to warily weave his '96 Joltmobile down Woodland Avenue, the city's most bowel-busting boulevard of bad-boy craters rimmed with stiletto-sharp SEPTA rails.

Three decades of neglect have turned Southwest Philadelphia's shop-lined main drag into a busted-up road to ruin that almost left the voice of the pothole-plagued public and his trusty test car ready for the wrecker.

Between 58th and 72nd streets, parked cars on both sides of Woodland force motorists to straddle the trolley tracks on a highway to hell of potholes and pothumps (pancake piles of pathetic patch jobs) that SEPTA and the city Streets Department have neglected since the bicentennial.

That's right, the bicentennial.

"It's been almost 30 years since Woodland was resurfaced," said Anthony P. Ingargiola, who manages the Woodland Avenue Revitalization Project at the Southwest Community Development Corp.

"You can still see the remains of the red, white and blue bicentennial inserts they put in some of the crosswalks, so you know the street hasn't been resurfaced since."

Of course, 30 years is actually short-term by City of Philadelphia standards...

For years, Joltmeister has rattled and rolled over shattered streets, reporting the city's most vicious craters, chasms and crevasses to the tow-truck-weary public.

But Woodland Avenue - the bustling Broad Street of Southwest Philadelphia - is the shame of the city, the worst example of a government bureaucracy so crazily out of whack with taxpayers' basic needs that it has done nothing but babble while Woodland crumbles, bleeds asphalt, eats cars and drivers' wallets, burps hubcaps.

As Joltmeister lurched down Woodland, past hundreds of small businesses and their hundreds of employees, he wondered, "Don't these people pay taxes? Where are the services they're supposed to get for their money - like drivable streets?"

"I am a police officer in the 12th District at 65th and Woodland," a worried cop told the Joltmeister. "Woodland is one of the main streets used in emergencies, not only for us but also the Fire Department and the medics around the corner from us. I am afraid that one day, while responding to a call, someone will hit one of these potholes and crash, possibly hitting an innocent pedestrian.

"I once pulled over a driver who was swerving on Woodland because I thought he had been drinking," the officer said. "It turned out he was swerving to avoid the potholes."

"This is literally an unsafe street," said Bruce Zeiger, owner since 1970 of Smiles drygoods store, Woodland near 61st.

A sign in Smiles' window reads: "LOOK what $9.99 Buys!" The Os in "LOOK" have eyeballs, an old-school throwback to the '70s - which is the last time the street was drivable, said Zeiger.

"When city or SEPTA workers come out to fill a pothole, they have no tamper, no rake, no nothing," he said. "They dump the stuff in with a shovel until they've replaced the hole with a hill of stuff. Then they drive off and expect the traffic to flatten it. To me, it's like watching them throw money down a hole."

Apparently, neither city nor SEPTA workers take much pride in their work, at least along Woodland...

Soon, the asphalt stuffing is gone, he said, and the hole is as bad as it was before.

"We are the forgotten section of the city," said Stan Nelson, who has worked at the Becker/Player's sporting goods store, Woodland near 63rd, for 40 years and owned it for 25. "We have so little political pull. That's why the streets are just yuck.

"There are 250 businesses on Woodland Avenue owned by old-timers and by new African and new Asian immigrants, but I'll be damned, the city still won't give us an inch."

Part of that lack of pull may be because that part of Woodland falls right into the district of City Council President Anna Verna (D-2), who isn't exactly on Emperor Street's buddy list...

Lou Frederick, who has owned the More for Less Outlet, an electronics closeout store on Woodland near 64th, for 25 years, is collecting customers' signatures on a "persistent, massive potholes" petition that notes the near-30 years of city neglect:

"This area is unfortunately rated by many as the most extensively deteriorated major thoroughfare in the city. We want to see the efforts to repair this street as a literal and symbolic sign that elected officials realize how important the condition of our commercial corridor is to the economic well-being of the many families who live, work and shop in Southwest Philadelphia, not to mention our physical safety."

"They never fix it," said Jim Drumm, an eight-year resident, while he signed the petition.

"They fill it and it comes right out," said James Davis, a 39-year resident, adding his name.

"Traffic sounds like bumper cars out there," Frederick said. "Bam! Bam! Bam! Hitting those holes all day long. We're ignored because we have no political pull. This would never happen in Chestnut Hill or Roxborough or East Falls. The squeaky wheel gets the lubrication. There are no squeaky wheels here."

Oh, did I also mention that the district of Councilwoman Janie Blackwell (D-3) also includes Woodland east of 57 St? Her top priority as it pertains to SEPTA is the Market St El reconstruction.

When Ingargiola squeaked loudly to SEPTA and the Streets Department, he said he got a full ration of "doublespeak and confusion" while they pointed fingers at each other.

"What can we do to get these knuckleheads to talk to one another and actually fix this dangerous situation?" Ingargiola asked the Joltmeister in April.

Driving down Woodland, the Joltmeister felt his pain - especially in the buttocks area.

He called the Streets Department, where an engineer blamed SEPTA and the Guaranteed Pavement Information System (GPIS) - a computerized database that tells agencies what other agencies are doing.

The engineer said Streets was ready to pave Woodland this spring when GPIS "spit out a conflict," revealing that SEPTA was retracking about a mile of it. "It didn't make sense to just pave part of Woodland," he said.

That kind of GPISsing-in-the-wind - a thin excuse for doing nothing - GPISsed the Joltmeister off.

How does he think the rest of the riding public feels?

He called SEPTA, where spokesman Richard Maloney said Woodland Avenue is part of a "revolving plan" that calls for replacing all the tracks between 40th and 58th streets by September, then spending the next two years doing Lindbergh Boulevard and Chester Avenue before returning to finish Woodland from 58th to 72nd streets in 2007.

The Joltmeister pointed out that all of Woodland's pothole-plagued commercial corridor - Southwest Philadelphia's very own Bermuda Triangle - is in that 58th to 72nd Street stretch that SEPTA won't do until 2007.

No problem, Maloney said, because the city Streets Department will resurface 58th to 72nd, making it drivable while it waits three years for SEPTA's retracking.

Maloney explained this two months ago.

And, as regular visitors to this site are painfully aware, SEPTA's Minister of Mis-Information isn't exactly known for his honesty...

But a few days ago, when the J-Meister cruised Woodland from 58th to 72nd, searching for the repairs that the Streets Department was supposed to have made, THERE WEREN'T ANY!

"That's because Southwest Philadelphia is in the Infertile Political Crescent," Ingargiola sneered. "We have no clout, so nothing gets done."

But Streets Department spokesperson Emily Buenaflor assured Joltmeister that as soon as SEPTA completes its track work around Labor Day, Streets will resurface "the whole stretch" of Woodland from 40th to 72nd.

"Are you sure they didn't promise to get it done by the tricentennial?" Ingargiola deadpanned.

The Joltmeister laughed. Ingargiola didn't.

Neither are we, nor the riders along Woodland who have to endure this every day...

Friday, June 25, 2004


CBS 3 reported a shooting at the northbound Wyoming Station on the Broad Street Line. According to CBS 3, the victim was shot in the leg at around 4:00pm today inside the station. A suspect is in custody at this time. More details are sure to follow...

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Channel 6 reported that R5 service was suspended at Rosemont due to a report of a suspicious package. Very little information was available, however a passenger reported the package sometime in the evening as an outbound train arrived at Rosemont. Service was restored three hours later.


Easttown Township is the lastest community to have a gripe with SEPTA, although Amtrak is also involved in this mess as well.

According to the Main Line Life, the Easttown Board of Supervisors are taking issue with an abandoned building at the Devon Rail Station on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line:

Frustrated with what it perceives as Amtrak's and SEPTA's lack of action to renovate or remove the crumbling Devon train station's baggage building, the supervisors passed a strongly worded resolution this week requiring Amtrak and SEPTA to remove or renovate the building. If not, the resolution said, the township will take matters into its own hands.

The township believes the baggage building at 21 N. Waterloo Road, just west of the main building, "has been for some time without activity, unoccupied and in a deteriorating condition, generally presenting fire, health and safety hazards to the public and an attractive nuisance for the public and the passengers of the railroad," according to the resolution.

"We had [the building] reviewed by the township engineer," pointed out Gene R. Williams, township manager, "and his concern is that since there is no roof on it, at this point it is in danger of collapsing."

The resolution states that Amtrak, which owns and leases the station to SEPTA, has 30 days to bring the building into compliance with township codes or remove the structure. If Amtrak does not comply, the township can either secure the building or demolish it, according to the Municipal Lien Law.

In a letter this month to Amtrak and SEPTA officials, Williams outlined attempts made through the years by the township to request the agencies to make improvements to the structure.

"We've been trying for 10 years for Amtrak to take some action and they have refused to do anything," maintained Supervisor William Connor. "The building is an eyesore and a public safety hazard."

Connor said it is likely the township would just tear the baggage building down rather than renovate it and bill the cost to Amtrak.


"We agree that the building is in a less desirable condition, and we have been applying pressure on SEPTA to have repairs made," explained Dan Stessel, Amtrak spokesman.

He said SEPTA officials have agreed in principal to make improvements. The agreement is not yet in writing, he added, but progress has been made.

SEPTA has delayed improvements because of development plans for the station, according to information received by Amtrak.


Stessel, however, claimed that Easttown lacks the authority to condemn the building and the Municipal Lien Law does not apply, since the station is federal property. He believes the matter can be resolved with SEPTA, which is required to maintain the condition of the Devon buildings according to the 47-Station Agreement. This outlines the lease arrangements for the 47 stations owned by Amtrak and leased to SEPTA along the Keystone Corridor from the 30th Street Station to Harrisburg.

"It's Amtrak's desire to be cooperative and work with SEPTA to have the repairs made," said Stessel. "We're cautiously optimistic that SEPTA will have this matter resolved shortly."

SEPTA did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Our guess is that SEPTA's Ministry of Mis-Information is taking its time drafting its denial...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


The summer schedules for NJ Transit's South Jersey routes will change on Saturday. The big changes in South Jersey (that I've seen so far) is the re-routing of the 313 and 553 to serve a new hospital complex in the Vineland area; the re-timing of the 316 to allow better connections from the 551 from Camden; and the addition of two additional stops on the 409X service between Willingboro and Philadelphia. More details will follow as soon as I can obtain the new timetables (and I promise I won't procrastinate on these like I am on the SEPTA timetables).

Monday, June 21, 2004


Give New Jersey Transit credit for being creative...

In honor of increased peak headways from 30 minutes to 15 minutes on the River Line, which began today, NJT is running one of the silliest contests I have ever seen any transit agency run.

It's called the "15 Minute Pickup". It's self explanitory...

"No, the whole premise is silly and it's very badly written. I'm the senior officer here and I haven't had a funny line yet. So I'm stopping it." Graham Chapman playing a British Army colonel from Season 1, Episode 8 of Monty Python's Flying Circus - Thanks to the "Monty Python's Flying Circus Just The Words" site for the exact quote



It's not a good day to be a rail rider in the Media area.

This morning, outbound service was suspended on the R3 Media-Elwyn line due to catenary problems at 49 St Station. The problems cascaded onto the West Trenton branch throughout most of the AM peak. As of this posting, it appears that service is back to normal on the R3 (which goes without saying).

Also, SEPTA reports a bus-bridge in effect on the 101/Media trolley line due to wire problems somewhere between Media and Springfield. Apparently, the webmaster at SEPTA responsible for posting delays has never taken the 101, as evidenced below:

The Route 101 trolley is operating shuttle buses for service between Woodlyn (sic) Avenue and Media Stations due to wire problems. SEPTA web site at 2:40pm

There is no "Woodlyn Avenue" station on the 101; there is a "Woodland Avenue" station, however.

There was also a report that the #509 (6:46am R5 Lansdale to Malvern) arrived at Suburban Station with a damaged pantograph.

But, other than that, all is well on the rail system today...


Nearly 30 people were injured following an accident involving a SEPTA bus and two other vehicles in the Spring Garden district of Philadelphia. Midvale 5745 was the bus involved in the accident. From the looks of the footage, it appears that 5745 also struck two more vehicles on 17 St after the initial impact.

Nearly three-dozen people requested medical attention. Both drivers reportedly suffered serious injuries.

James Wesley Smith witnessed the accident: "The bus was coming straight and then the driver realized he wasn’t going to stop."

Police say a car was traveling through the intersection, running through a stop sign. A SEPTA bus crashed into the car, then crashed into a tree and several cars. But officials say you can't really blame the driver of the car, because the stop sign that should have been at the intersection was actually taken down and laying on the ground several yards away.

People believe the stop sign had been sitting on the sidewalk for several days. Authorities are trying to figure out who took down the stop sign and why they did it.

That will probably take a few days. Knowing how incompetent city government is in Philadelphia, the people responsible will probably get promoted or something. At least it's not SEPTA's fault...

There were people lying all over the sidewalk at 17th and North. Some were pedestrians, some were passengers on the bus, some of them were passengers in the cars.

It happened during the morning rush. The SEPTA bus taking Route 2 was going south on 17th Street. A Mercury Sable was going across 17th Street on North. The Mercury driver who should have stopped did not, because the stop sign was missing. It was lying on the sidewalk about 30 feet from the intersection.

Witnesses say the crash took everyone by surprise.

Well, duh...

"I thought the car was going to make it by. But it didn't. At the impact, everybody was just flying everywhere." Anthony Street (who I doubt is related to the Emperor of Broad and Market), an injured passenger

"The initial look at this is there had been a stop sign... and it was knocked down or taken down sometime previous. So obviously the operator of the car didn't see the stop sign and went through the intersection." - SEPTA Minister of Mis-Information Richard Maloney


Remember last May when the Daily News (a fully-paid subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee) ran a story on inoperable call boxes along the El and Broad Street Line?

In case you forgot, the Daily News ran a follow-up cover story in today's editions.

In May 2003, SEPTA officials promised that their high-tech, $3.9 million passenger-emergency system - designed to replace aging and unreliable subway call boxes - would be up and running by the end of the summer.

They weren't specific about the year.

Now it's more than a year after the promise, four years after the new system was supposed to be working, and nine years after the contract was awarded. And the emergency-call-box system still doesn't work.

"We're still using the old system," acknowledged James Jordan, SEPTA's security chief. "We're keeping that system maintained and tested.

"It has not been a very satisfying project," he added.

No s**t, sherlock! It took you a year to figure that out, Jordan?

Situated on subway and trolley platforms on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford elevated lines, emergency-call boxes are supposed to be a direct link between passengers in distress and SEPTA police.

But 25 years of service, abuse and neglect have taken their toll on the old system - the bright yellow boxes, which feature a button and the instruction, "Push Once For Help."

A more accurate instruction would be to "Cross Your Fingers, Then Push Once For Help".

In May 2003, a Daily News probe of the system found an alarming rate of call-box failures, many occurring at stations in high-crime areas of the city.

A subsequent SEPTA review of the system uncovered even more malfunctioning boxes - 31 of 108 on the system.

SEPTA officials repaired most of the old boxes within 10 days of learning of the problem.

Sources familiar with the system say it still has problems.

"It's still the old system, and the old system still has multiple communications failures and breakdowns," said a source who has tested the call boxes.

At the time last year, officials said that the new computerized system, which could maintain itself and provide more detailed information on the location of an emergency call, would be ready to take over the job within a couple of months. All that remained was fixing a software glitch.

That has not happened. Instead, the new call boxes remain covered in brown fabric and decorated in spray paint, little more than shoebox-sized canvases for graffiti artists or a place to rest an empty coffee cup.

The call-box controversy unfolds at a time when the cash-strapped agency is seeking support in Harrisburg for a bill that would increase the amount of its state subsidy by upping the percentage of the sales tax dedicated to mass transit.


The call-box troubles also come at a time when America has been told to prepare for another terror attack this summer. SEPTA recently received more than $1 million in federal anti-terror funds.

Jordan said the problem with the new call-box system stems from computer software that is supposed to test periodically the function of the system.

He said the software is telling the system that boxes are not working, when, in fact, they are operational.

"We continue to get false negatives," said Jordan. "We don't want to not be able to know if the box is working."

Speaking of false negatives, perhaps that's what SEPTA gets every time Jordan opens his mouth to proclaim how safe the system is.

News of yet another delay with getting the new system on line distressed public officials and transit advocates.

"It seems that with all the anxiety of potential terrorist attacks this year, they better get it functioning pretty soon," said state Rep. Alan Butkovitz, (D/Philadelphia).

"It is a substantial investment. And with the health and safety of the public, they better take emergency recourse. There is no alternative to getting it done."

It should be pointed out that Butkovitz is not one of the 30 co-sponsors of HB 2697, the funding bill in question. Gee, I wonder why. Could it be that he's not convinced that SEPTA will be held to stronger accountability if they get the additional funding?

SEPTA is witholding its final payment of $800,000 on the system until the problem is resolved with the contractor, based in Sewell, N.J. Asked to assess responsibility for the delay, Jordan said: "We're not clear that the fault can be simply apportioned."

Try looking at 1234 Market, Jordan, and you'll be in the right direction.

He did say that officials have discussed a way of working around the testing glitch.

In fact, the project has been so long in getting completed that technology has improved and could provide an upgrade that would allow the system to operate.

SEPTA's best estimate of the cost of the upgrade is that it would be less than $500,000. Meanwhile, the agency has been forced to hire a consultant to assess the system and whether such an upgrade could be made. SEPTA said it would use the withheld money to pay for the consultants and the upgrade if necessary.

Gee, more consultants. Maybe one of them will advise SEPTA to fire Jordan and hire someone with a clue.

Not everyone familiar with the issue considers the transit agency an innocent victim in the call-box boondoggle.

"Here we see another example of SEPTA needing more than just additional funding from the state," said Don Nigro, president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, a mass- transit watchdog group.

"SEPTA is in desperate need of effective management."

Unfortunately, the "parrots" involved with the "saveTransit" group who are lobbying Harrisburg to support the Greenleaf/Taylor transit funding bills don't consider accountability (or lack thereof) as a major obstacle in obtaining funding. Anyone who calls for accountability is shouted down by upper management, much to the delight of the saveTransit coalition "parrots". Anyway...

For the moment, SEPTA will continue to rely on its old system, installed in 1979. Officials acknowledged that the older the system gets, the more SEPTA must spend on maintenance and repairs.

Jordan said it should take only a few weeks to diagnose the problem. He stressed that he wasn't making any promises, except to say:

"Nobody has any interest in prolonging it any further."

Perhaps the consultants who are being paid $500,000 of your tax dollars may want to prolong it, but other than that, of course nobody wants to prolong it.

Meanwhile, service on the Broad Street Line was cut back to Snyder on Friday night after the Phillies allegedly played a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals (a judge should've cited them for "failure to appear", it was that ugly of a loss). The incident occured at Pattison station, when police spotted a unattended bag full of clothes in a subway train. Service was suspended shortly before 10:00pm, right after the game (mercifully) ended. Buses were allegedly dispatched, however reports from the field indicate that they were a long time in coming; if that's the case, it's very odd, considering that Southern Depot is right down the street from the sports complex, unless there was a shortage of available operators...

Thursday, June 17, 2004


After months of delays, SEPTA has finally set dates for public hearings on the Fiscal Year 2005 Annual Service Plan, which would modify two routes in South Philadelphia and dramatically restructure several bus routes operating in the Chester area. From first glance (I have yet to recieve the ASP document itself), it appears that most of the proposals remain unchanged, however, the 104 was also added to the list of tariffs, leading me to believe that the 119 will indeed be cut back to Cheyney (or possibly to West Chester Pike and Chester Rd) and the 104 would be re-routed off of West Chester Pike between Bolmar Street and the US 202 bypass and onto Paoli Pike to replace 119 service to West Goshen Shopping Center. When I get a copy of the document, more details will be posted. The hearing dates are scheduled as follows:

  • Monday, July 18: West Chester Municipal Building, 401 E Gay St (Routes 104, 119, and 314)
  • Tuesday, July 19: Days Inn hotel, Chester (Routes 109, 116, 117, 118, and 119)
  • Friday, July 22: SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market St, Philadelphia

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


We hear that one of the two Red Arrow buses that caught fire last week was ElDorado 4539. According to Darryl Bulls, one of our regular correspondents 4539 "was destroyed by a bus engine fire that literally melted the entire rear section of the bus including the bus engine and radiator. The bus was towed from Victory Depot to Midvale Depot." We're still awaiting confirmation of the second bus that suffered fire damage, but early reports indicate that it was probably a NABI.


SEPTA Board Member and State Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-12/Montgomery & Bucks) introduced legislation - Senate Bill 1162 - to offer a more stable source of dedicated funding to transit agencies across Pennsylvania, including SEPTA. Similar legislation will be introduced by State Representative John J. Taylor (R-177/Philadelphia).

“Efficient and effective public transportation is critically important to the economic prosperity of all Pennsylvanians,” said Senator Greenleaf, a member of the SEPTA Board representing Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

“SEPTA and every transit agency across Pennsylvania are facing dire consequences without stable state funding. I’m confidant this legislation will provide that stability,” said Representative Taylor.

The legislation being introduced in the State House and Senate would lift a $75-million cap and dedicate an additional 3.2184% of the existing sales tax to transit, generating approximately $282 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2004. SEPTA’s share would exceed $174 million. The sales tax was selected because it has a history of stability and growth.

“This legislation would provide the financial stability SEPTA absolutely requires to operate a transit system our customers expect and deserve,” said SEPTA Board Chairman, Pasquale T. Deon, Sr.

Also announced at the Philadelphia news conference, Paul Levy, Executive Director of Philadelphia Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, has agreed to lead the saveTransit Coalition.

saveTransit Coalition was formed earlier this year to coordinate a wide variety of public transportation interests seeking a long term funding solution for public transit in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.

“Paul has been an ardent supporter of public transportation and brings to the saveTransit Coalition a sophisticated knowledge of the critical role SEPTA plays in the economy of the city, the region, and the state.” said SEPTA General Manager Faye Moore. “Paul is widely respected among business, political and civic leaders for his practical approach to solving fundamental issues in the region,” she said.

"Through the saveTransit Coalition we have an opportunity to stress just how important transit is to Philadelphia and this region," Levy said. "I have agreed to serve as the leader of the coalition because transit moves this region and without it our roads would be more congested, it would be harder for our stores to attract customers as well as prospective employees, and our region would not be as attractive to the types of businesses that we are trying to bring in and hold onto."

The saveTransit Coalition was created to call upon Pennsylvania State Government to enact legislation to provide dedicated and predictable funding for SEPTA and public transit across the Commonwealth. Because of funding shortfalls in the state budget in six of the past nine years SEPTA and transit agencies across the state are facing multi-million dollar budget deficits. SEPTA has announced that it will have an FY 05 Operating Budget deficit of $70 million without additional state funding.
SEPTA Press Release

From today's Daily News:

The bill, based on the legislative proposal submitted by the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association, would generate roughly $282 million in additional transit funding statewide in 2004-2005. SEPTA would be in line to receive an additonal $174 million.

The cash-strapped agency faces a $70 million deficit in its operating budget for fiscal year 2005, which begins July 1. Pittsburgh's transit system is facing a $30 million shortfall. The combined deficit of the smaller systems is estmated between $5 and $10 million.

Taylor and Greenleaf made their case yesterday during a press conference at SEPTA headquarters in Center City sponsored by the SaveTransit Coalition - a group of state legislators, local leaders and transit officials.

The officials blamed the current fiscal crisis on stagnant support from Harrisburg - no increase in state subsidies for public transit in six of the last nine years.

SaveTransit director Paul Levy noted that at 13.75 percent, Pennsylvania lags well behind other states in the percentage of funding it provides to its mass transit systems relative to their operating budgets.

He said roughly 30 percent of New York City's transit system is subsidized by the state. San Francisco's BART system receives 48 percent of its funding from California, while Boston receives 49 percent of its operating funds from Massachusetts.

Roughly 18 percent of all workers in the region rely on SEPTA, including 70 percent of all employees who work in Center City, according to Levy, who is also the executive director of the Center City District.

"It is really time we appropriately value this critical asset of ours," he said...

"SEPTA will not be the same one year from now if we do not put this together," warned SEPTA board chairman Pasquale "Pat" Deon.

"The critical time is now. We've made all the cuts we can make."

Greenleaf, who is also a SEPTA board member, said he has 22 sponsors lined up in the Senate from both parties. He hopes to see the bill passed as an amendment to the roughly $22 billion state budget, which must be passed before legislators go on summer recess at the end of the month.
Daily News

A full analysis of this bill will come within the next couple of days...

Saturday, June 12, 2004


I know that schedules change tomorrow, but I haven't had a chance to pick up new timetables. I can confirm that SEPTA, hiding under the cover of "reduced summer ridership" will eliminate express trips on the P&W, meaning all 69 St-Norristown trains will be single-car locals, as will all 69 St-Bryn Mawr service. I can also report that some weekend 104 trips will be extended from West Chester Pike and PA 252 to Newtown Square Corporate Campus.

Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up timetables this weekend, and by then I'll be able to analyze all the schedules by the end of next week.


After much consternation between SEPTA and a Philadelphia City Councilmember, the Northeast Times reports that SEPTA will remove the trolley poles along a portion of Torresdale Avenue starting July 1; the official announcement was made at a ceremony on June 3:

On May 13, PennDOT joined elected officials at a news conference at Torresdale Avenue and Benner Street to announce a $900,000 project to pave over the trolley tracks on the avenue.

As part of the conversion, SEPTA was supposed to remove poles and wires that are not needed since the Route 56 trolley has long been defunct. The route once stretched from 23rd and Venango streets in Nicetown to Torresdale and Cottman avenues.

SEPTA, though, indicated that it could not perform the work, citing budget woes. The cost was put at $7 million.

City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski (D-6th dist.) responded by writing a scathing letter to SEPTA General Manager Faye Moore.

In the letter, Krajewski threatened to encourage the public to open newsstands around the Frankford Transportation Center to provide SEPTA with competition.

The councilwoman also promised to fight to freeze part of the city’s subsidy to SEPTA and to oppose any enabling legislation the transportation authority needs to build a parking garage next to the FTC.
Northeast Times

For those keeping score, Krajewski is the second member of City Council to have major issues with SEPTA. Councilwoman Janie Blackwell (D-3) has had numerous issues with SEPTA over the ongoing Market Street El reconstruction project.

Moore later wrote to Krajewski to tell her that she approved the removal of poles and wiring on Torresdale Avenue from Frankford to Cottman avenues. That stretch of the trolley route is in the 6th Councilmanic District.

The work will begin July 1, the same day PennDOT will start its paving. The project should be completed by Nov. 1.

SEPTA spokesman Jim Whitaker said money remains a problem for the transportation authority but that budget adjustments were made to fund the project. He denied that SEPTA caved to Krajewski’s pressure.

"It was part of our effort to work with the councilwoman," he said.
Northeast Times

Um, right. Of course SEPTA didn't cave to Krajewski's pressure.

What this decision essentially means is that there is no chance at all that streetcar service will ever return to the 56. It also means that there's far less likelyhood that the 23 would ever see streetcar service as well.

The interesting part of this whole fiasco is that the pole removal should be part of the capital budget, and as such, subjected to the public hearing process. It probably won't be, though it'd be interesting to see how SEPTA spins this.


The Philadelphia Daily News (a fully-paid subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee) reports the discovery of a small pipe bomb along the NEC tracks in Norwood yesterday.

"It was functional," said Cpl. Chris Kennedy of the Norwood police. But "it wasn't big enough to do any damage."

Kennedy described the bomb as a four-inch plastic casing containing gun powder.

Amtrak spokesperson Vernae Graham said the device was not immediately linked to any terrorist activity. But a source close to Amtrak said a similar device was found last week next to Amtrak tracks in Torresdale.

Amtrak police are looking to see if a copycat to the "suburban bomber" is behind the latest devices, the source said.

During 2000 and 2001, about 20 devices were found in Montgomery and Chester counties. The culprit behind the planted bombs was never apprehended.

Graham said the Norwood tracks where the bomb was found is used frequently by the SEPTA regional rail line. But SEPTA reported no delays related to the find, officials said yesterday.
Daily News

The "suburban bomber" was responsible for several bomb scares in and around the Phoenixville/Royersford/Valley Forge area, and was the subject of a massive manhunt by Chester County, Montgomery County, state and federal law enforcement officers. How Amtrak has managed to compare the two incidents in Torresdale and Norwood is curious at best, but it certainly is comforting to know that at least one police agency responsible for protecting our mass transit system is doing its job.

Are you paying attention, Jim Jordan?

Thursday, June 10, 2004


Apparently, an traditional Philadelphia gripe is holding up trolley service not only for the 15/Girard, but also on the 10 as well. Residents along 59 St between Vine and Callowhill reportedly had some complaints about what they percieve to be the elimination of parking spaces as a result of restoring trolley access to Callowhill Depot. No matter what neighborhood in Philadelphia you live in, parking is always one of the biggest complaints from residents, even more so than the incomptence of Emperor Street and his minions at Broad and Market. As a result, not only will the 15 forced to remain a bus route, but the 10 is also being forced into a bus-bridge as well.

So, as a result of the complaints of a handful of neighbors who (in)conveniently waited until a few weeks before trolley restoration was to have begun, SEPTA's plans to restore one of the three surface streetcar lines in the City of Philadelphia that was "suspended" in 1992 is now on hold. And, to make things worse, riders along Lancaster and Lansdowne Aves will now be forced into a bus-bridge.

And you wonder why I hate Philadelphia so much?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


More security issues for SEPTA according to KYW NewsRadio:

Just because the trash cans at most SEPTA stations haven't been changed doesn't mean there have been no changes following the Homeland Security directive last month calling for an upgrade in security at commuter rail stations throughout the country.

The Homeland Security directive was issued last month with a sense of urgency. Still, says Jim Jordan -- the head of safety for SEPTA -- federal authorities have not confined the transit agency to a timetable because they understand compliance is an ongoing process:

"What they have said to us is, the key to these directives is for us all to work together cooperatively. While they have the legal right to impose sanctions, they do not anticipate doing that."

In fact, Jordan says, the federal Department of Homeland Security is working on a report for SEPTA, expected later this month or early next month, which will detail the changes it recommends.

It's unlikely, he says, those changes will include bomb-resistant trash cans, which redirect the force of an explosion upward rather than outward. The low ceilings in many SEPTA facilities, Jordan says, could actually make those trash cans a poor choice.

One alternative being discussed is traditional wire trash containers with clear plastic liners, allowing the contents to be easily observed by security personnel.
KYW 1060 AM

Whatever. Somehow, Jordan will find a way to screw this up, just as SEPTA botched the handling of the incident last month at Powelton Yard...

Meanwhile, in the Lehigh Valley, the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) announced plans to install video surveillance cameras on some or all of its buses in the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton area, according to the Easton Express-Times:

LANTA Executive Director Armand Greco on Tuesday afternoon told board members the project has been moving ahead at a good pace. In addition to preparing to advertise for the bids, executives are also planning a trip this month to see how another transit authority operates its security system, he said.

Once completed, LANTA will join the South Eastern Transportation Authority (sic) and several others in the northeast region of the country that have added surveillance cameras on their buses. The trip later this month will be to see the system used by the Delaware Authority for Regional Transit [DART First State - ed.], which is Wilmington, Del.'s, mass transit provider.

Greco said installing the cameras will be the simplest part of the project. The reason for the trip is to get a better understanding of operating and maintaining the system, he said.

The authority began considering installing the cameras more than a year ago as a deterrent to any passengers considering doing anything unsafe or illegal and a tool for providing a record of crashes or other incidents involving buses. The project's cost has been estimated between $700,000 and $800,000.

Denis Meyers, the authority's assistant executive director, said there are three vendors that specialize in the camera systems the authority is looking to install.
Easton Express-Times

For the record, SEPTA was supposed to have installed cameras on all 155 Neoplan articulated buses, but that project - just like every other security project at SEPTA - apparently was never completed. It appears that none of the cameras have been installed. A few apparently were installed, but appear to have been removed. For a smaller system like LANTA, it shouldn't be as difficult for them to follow through on such a project.


Vandals reportedly hit a pair of Silverliner cars that were laying over in the Doylestown Yard over the weekend.

Multi-colored words - including "Space," "Avis" and "IOD" - were painted between 12:45 a.m. and 8:05 am. Sunday. When SEPTA employees noticed the vandalism, the paint was still wet. Doylestown Intelligencer

We're sure that the Doylestown Borough Police will do a thorough job investigating this incident, which is far more that can be said for SEPTA's "rent-a-cops".


Plans to initiate 15-minute peak service on NJT's River Line are on hold temporarily. The increased service was to have started two weeks ago, however, according to the Burlington County Times:

Work to review traffic-signal timing and how it corresponds with extra trains led to the delay, spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett said.

"We're making absolutely certain that the timing of the traffic signals as it relates to our service is appropriate, so we don't create undue traffic issues," she said.

No particular signal is holding up the service change. NJ Transit staffers are looking at traffic lights along the entire corridor, she said.
Burlington County Times

Meanwhile, there are a couple of articles on connecting shuttle bus services operating within Burlington and Camden Counties.

The BurLink service, which is managed and operated by Burlington County, was the subject of a recent article in the Trenton Times:

Each weekday morning, Terokee Stackhouse rides his bike from his Beverly home, hops on the Trenton-to-Camden light-rail line to Burlington City, then boards a shuttle bus for his job in Burlington Township.

The entire hassle-free trip costs $1 and takes about 30 minutes, Stackhouse said. "I leave my house at 7 a.m. and I'm at work by 7:30," he said. "It's great."

Stackhouse, who relies on public transportation to get around, had nothing but praise for both the New Jersey Transit light-rail River Line that began operating in March and Burlington County's BurLink shuttle service, which recently expanded to include stops along the rail line.

That's just the type of ringing endorsement Burlington County officials had hoped to hear when they began thinking about how to get riders to and from the rail stations along the county's riverfront communities long before the River Line picked up its first passenger.

The plan to improve public transportation for county residents focused on expansion of the county's now 4-year-old BurLink shuttle bus service, a $1 per ride system that operates from about 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays.


Previously, Stackhouse had to take two New Jersey Transit buses that dropped him off at the Burlington Center mall, then walk to his warehouse job at Vitality Food Service in the Bromley Commons industrial park.

"I would take the 419, transfer to the 413 to the mall and then walk from the mall," said Stackhouse, calling the daily 10-minute walk "a good hike." By comparison, the shuttle drops him right at his employer's door.

"This is so much better," said Stackhouse, 42. "It's clean. It's fast. It's close. I'm very happy with the train and I'm very happy with BurLink. They're reliable and dependable."
Trenton Times

County officials are pleased with ridership, which on the surface seems low, but for the limited service provided, doesn't seem that bad:

...[T]he BurLink shuttle is a $1.9 million-a-year operation primarily funded with state and federal dollars. The county has budgeted $573,000 for the service this year, but officials hope to offset that cost by securing additional grant funding.

Since the shuttle service only runs on weekdays, it's not surprising that a recent survey showed the majority of riders, 64 percent, use it for employment purposes, Brauckmann said. Another 28 percent use the shuttle buses to go shopping and get to doctor appointments, he said.

The latest statistics available through the county transportation office show 234 riders use the shuttle service each day. But that number is expected to rise as more people begin to take advantage of the connecting routes to the rail line...


But with the price of gasoline going up, Brown said more people may become willing to explore public transportation opportunities.

BurLink bus driver Loretta Bullosk is already seeing an increase in the number of passengers she picks up each morning in Burlington City. "It's starting to pick up a little," said Bullosk, who added she thinks she will be picking up more riders "once the word gets out."

Stackhouse, who said he found out about BurLink from a flier he got at a Burlington City newsstand, agreed.

"I think they need to promote it better," he said. "A lot of people don't know this service is out there."
Trenton Times

Meanwhile, in Camden County, the South Jersey Transportation Authority is sponsoring its own shuttle system from River Line stations in Camden City and Pennsawken Township, according to the Burlington County Times:

The shuttle service offers free rides to and from the River Line park-and-ride station on Route 73 in Pennsauken and businesses in the nearby Pennsauken Industrial Park.

Plans call for the service to expand to job sites in Camden and to business parks in Moorestown.

"Right now we're looking for employers in order to get a feel for the interest level," said Norm Stites, transit operations manager for the authority, about the expansion to Moorestown.

He said the proposed route to Moorestown would circulate buses from the River Line on Route 73 through Pennsauken Industrial Park, then north along Route 130 to businesses along Church and Lenola roads.

Unlike traditional bus services, Transit Link does not have a set route or schedule. The buses cater directly to the transportation needs of specific businesses and employers, said Ronda R. Urkowitz, program director for Cross County Connection. The Mount Laurel-based transportation advocacy group is marketing the shuttle system to businesses for the transportation authority.
Burlington County Times


As if the two buses that caught fire earlier today weren't enough of a problem for Red Arrow, there's word that the 101 and 102 trolleys are running a bus bridge between 69 St and Congress Av station. The incident occured within the past hour and a half. I'm sure Rich Hanratty and his minions down at both 1234 Market and at Victory Avenue are having such a wonderful time trying to explain their way out of this mess...


A public hearing will be held in the Board Room at 1234 Market regarding recent routing changes to the 64. The hearings will cover recent changes in South Philadelphia and Mill Creek. The South Philly changes took westbound 64 service off of Federal between 11 St and Broad St due to "concerns regarding buses making the right turn onto Federal Street from 11 Street" (translation: the neighbors bitched about it). The Mill Creek changes took the 64 off 46 St onto 48 St between Haverford and Westminster to "better serve shopping destinations for community residents." The hearing will take place on Friday, July 16 at 10:00am.


We hear reports that at least two Red Arrow buses are out of service due to fire damage. I have yet to confirm which buses are out, but it's only a matter of time before some trips at Red Arrow end up being missed.

Meanwhile, over the past few weeks, at least based on spot observations, service on the 104 has regressed yet again (as if it couldn't get any worse than it is now).

Two Sundays ago, the 5:05pm from 69 Street to West Chester (5374/4218 block) broke down on West Chester Pike at Providence Road. Naturally, no replacement was sent out, and passengers were forced to wait nearly an hour for the next bus. It wouldn't have been to much to ask to send a replacement out immediately, now would it?

Then, last Sunday, while I was making my way up to Bethlehem for the weekend (my girlfriend is living up there for now before moving back to the hellhole that is known as Pottstown), my travels could be categorized by saying "Break out the dancing bears."

West Chester's Super Sunday festival closed off Gay Street, which meant that the 104 would have to detour around the block party while heading back and forth to West Chester University. The detour used last year had buses operating from Chestnut and High Sts, then via Chestnut, New, High, and Market Streets en route to the university. Return trips would not serve New and Market, but instead would turn off of High onto Market. All things considered, it worked fairly well. This past Sunday, however, was a different story...

The 8:05am to 69 St (5309/4215 block) followed the outbound detour to the university, but the inbound detour apparently changed. Now, it seems, the 104s heading into 69 Street are now detouring via High and Price Sts, then via Price, Bradford Avenue, and Market St and on route to New and Market Sts when Gay St is closed. Naturally, there were no signs anywhere telling anybody along High between Price and Miner Sts where to board the buses (or at least there were none that I saw, nor were there any notices posted at 69 St or on the web site. Anyway, the bus pulled up to Market and High Streets 8 minutes late. We pulled into 69 St 13 minutes late, either because (a) the NABIs at Red Arrow are notoriously slow or (b) the driver was dogging it. It's probably a combination of both, but considering there's hardly anyone on the road at that time of the day on Sunday, I'd have to lean towards (b).

Anyway, getting my Philadelphia to Bethlehem bus ticket at the Greyhound terminal took longer than I would've liked (of course, if I had gotten to 69 St on time, this wouldn't be an issue). Anyway, my plan was to grab the 10:30am 55 from Olney towards Willow Grove Park mall so I could stop at the bank on the way to (if you'll pardon the expression) Doylestown. Naturally, I ended up missing the 10:30am by about 2 minutes. Fortunately, in the only part of the trip that seemed to go right at all, the 11:00am to Doylestown arrived close to schedule (maybe it was a couple minutes early), with 7240 (3506 block) running quite fast along PA 611. Say this much about the artics: the initial acceleration may be slower than the Volvos, but once you get them going, some of them can really fly. Thankfully, 7240 is one of those buses.

After buying my ticket for the 1:10pm Trans-Bridge bus to Bethlehem (the Bieber ticket was for later), I had lunch and waited at the train station for the bus to Bethlehem. I got there a few minutes before 1:00pm, thinking I'd have plenty of time to make it.

Umm, no.

By 1:40pm, I called to find out where the bus was. Apparently, the driver stopped at the Shell Station at Main St and the US 202 freeway, but never bothered to get to the train station. After nearly an hour of trying to figure out how much a cab would cost to get to Quakertown, my girlfriend and her mom picked me up in Doylestown shortly after 3:00pm to get to Bethlehem (actually, Lower Saucon Township). By that time, I was able to listen to Kevin Millwood magically turn a 4-0 lead against the Atlanta Braves into a 6-4 deficit all in the course of one inning.

Gee, thanks.

Fortunately, heading down to Philadelphia on Monday and returning to Bethlehem the same day wasn't half as bad as the previous day. The Trans-Bridge bus from Bethlehem to Doylestown actually stopped at the train station this time, so I wasn't as in as bad of shape as I would've thought.

Except that tresspasser got struck and killed at North Hills, shutting down the R5.

Fortunately, the 8:52am 55 from Doylestown to Olney (VOH 7244/3501 block) showed up, and I was able to get into the city without further problems (even though it seems like a longer trip when you're travelling down 611). After taking care of what I had to take care of, I returned on Bieber back to Bethlehem without any major problems.

Side note: I've never understood two things about bus service between Philadelphia and either the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton area or to Reading. (1) Why does it seem as though Trailways and Bieber always sends their oldest buses on the line run trips to Philadelphia, thus saving the newer buses for their New York trips (I had 497 to Bethlehem on Monday, and 511 returning to Philly yesterday - both late 1980s MCIs with stick shifts), and (2) why is there three times as much service from Reading and the Lehigh Valley to New York compared to Philadephia? I still don't think I'll ever understand it.

Anyway, that leads up to today's fun fiasco on the 104. The 4:05pm West Chester Express (3381/4240 block) got into West Chester nearly 15 minutes late. The regular operator of this trip (who I've known for nearly 8 years, and has always been up front with his passengers if there have ever been problems with his trips) was off today. Let's just say the substitute driver (who normally works trolleys and, according to a couple of moles at Red Arrow, practically has an attitude like a white-shirt) wasn't as forthcoming with the riders as the regular operator would be.

When I asked why she was so late getting into West Chester, she remarked, "Well, I'm not really late. I'm not late unless I leave West Chester late." Sounds like something taken out of the Richard Maloney/Joe O'Rourke School of Customer Dis-Service.

Of course, they assign 3381, which several operators say is one of the slowest buses in the entire depot. And, of course, they send it out to West Chester. Of course...


The summer schedules on all divisions will take effect starting this weekend. As usual, a full listing of all changes in the City, Red Arrow, and Frontier divisions will be posted on the web site within a matter of days (although that's subject to change due to other plans)...

The big highlight of the changes are the designation of all bus routes (not including the trackless lines and the 15) being designated as wheelchair accessible routes. The trackless routes in Frankford, however, will see some accessible buses on the line, but the status will remain unchanged due to the uncertain future of the AM General trackless trolley fleet.

A few other highlights include an extension of Satruday service on the 1 from Wissahickon Transfer Center to 54 St/City Av, re-adjustments to peak hour service on the 27, and a reduction in service to Springfield and MacDade Malls on the 122.


The return of trolley service to the 15/Girard Av corridor is now on hold, thanks in part to some complaints around the area of Callowhill Depot. Apparently, despite the fact that restoration of trolley service on the 15/Girard had been in the works for the past several years, it's just now - only a few weeks before trolleys were to return - that neighbors are complaining. This raises the question - WHY?

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


For those who don't like problems on the Regional Rail system, we have ... more problems on the Regional Rail system.

Also wreaking havoc today was an accident on the R6 Norristown line, involving the #4630 and a truck at the Main Street crossing in Norristown. The incident occured just as the #4630 was arriving at the Main Street station. The #6632 then turned at DeKalb St/Norristown Transportation Center and ran as the #6629 into Center City. There were no reports of injures to passengers, the train crew, or the idiot who drove into the crossing as the #4630 was passing.

The three problems reported on these pages are in addition to reported problems on the R1, R2, and R3 lines yesterday morning, though it was unclear whether it was the PRR-side or RDG-side trains that were having problems. This was reported on all the traffic updates early Monday morning, however I have been unable to confirm any details (as it was noted earlier, I was with my girlfriend up in the Lehigh Valley the past couple of days; and yes, I will get back to updating the sites on a regular basis).


According to reports that have not yet been confirmed or reported by the press, Olney Terminal was shut down today, due to what appears to be a "suspicious incident." So far, few details are available, except for a report that all bus routes in and around Olney Terminal and the Broad Street Line were not able to operate into the station. More details should be available, if and when any information becomes available.

Terrific. I spend two days in the Lehigh Valley and all hell breaks loose...


For the second time in as many days, a SEPTA Regional Rail train struck and killed a tresspasser in Montgomery County. Today's incident occured along the R2 Warminster branch in Upper Moreland Township between Willow Grove and Hatboro stations. The #4127 was en route to Center City and the Airport when the incident occured at around 10:50am this morning. Daniel Sands, 18, of Hatboro, Montgomery County, was pronounced dead at the scene. His friend, who was not identified, "told investigators that he stepped off the tracks and thought Sands was on the other side of the train, but once the train passed he could see that Sands had been struck, [Upper Moreland Township] police said." Intelligencer

As a follow-up to yesterday's fatal accident on the R5 Lansdale line, Abington Township police ruled that incident a suicide, according to the AP:

Abington police said in a statement that as the train approached, the man suddenly stepped out from a concealed location and stood on the tracks facing the train.

"He made no attempt to move and it was impossible for the train to stop," the statement said. Police said the pedestrian was not carrying identification and authorities sought the public's help in learning who he was. Police said he was Caucasian, 25 to 30 years old, 5-feet-10 to 6 feet tall, with a medium build and dark hair, and was wearing bright red shorts, a gray T-shirt and white sneakers. He didn't have any tattoos, body piercings or other noticeable identifying marks, police said.

Monday, June 07, 2004


A tresspasser was struck and killed on the R-5 Lansdale-Doylestown line this morning, disrupting peak hour service. The Inquirer reports that a man jumped in front of outbound #6512 at 6:10am and died upon impact. Service north of Glenside was suspended until 9:00am, when the scene was cleared, with no bus bridge service available.

Friday, June 04, 2004


The ranks of SEPTA's "rent-a-cop" force will grow by 13 more officers, who recently completed training at the Philadelphia Police Academy as part of Class 341. The 13 new "rent-a-cops" are part of 124 officers who completed training, the rest of whom are from Philadelphia (except for one officer from Cheltenham Township and one from "Middletown" Township, Bucks County). One gets the feeling that the 13 new "rent-a-cops" will be sworn in at the SEPTA Board's next "rubber-stamp session" later this month.


An 18-year-old woman was the victim of a sexual attack at a SEPTA station last week. Danielle D'Agostino of Philadelphia was allegedly fondled by a 31-year-old man on the Broad Street Line platform at Olney Terminal. According to an account she gave to CBS 3:

D'Agostino described what happened just before 4:30 p.m. last Friday at the city’s busy Broad and Olney station while she walked with a friend and her 11-month-old child: “He is chasing me but in a walking way. He is walking towards me and I am walking away.”

Showing her a pocket-knife she says the suspect groped her and said: "I am going to stab you in your f-ing throat." "Thank God she [her friend] was pushing the baby because I would not know what to do," she said.

D'Agostino says no one helped her recalling that she had to walk past the same group of men at least five times until a train operator finally contacted police.

With guns drawn police took 31-year-old David Holey into custody. He is charged with a number of crimes related to this incident and police say he may be connected to other crimes.

Commuters expressed shock upon hearing of the attack.

Zarinah Hayes of Germantown relies on the station daily: "I just normally get off before it gets dark. I’m not out here at night. That’s why it is surprising it happened during the daytime."

Pam Henderson, also of Germantown said her family frequently uses the station: "I have a niece that works late and when she and my daughter are up here I tell her to carry your cell phone and call me and we’ll talk until you get home."

Before anyone expects me to praise SEPTA's "rent-a-cops" for taking Holey off the streets, understand that THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO DO THAT! It's not like they arrested Osama Bin Laden or anyone like that (of course, they'd probably botch that up too). That said, observations in the past have indicated that while there are often several officers at Broad and Olney immediately after Central and Girls high schools let out for the day, I've heard reports that there are few "rent-a-cops" in the area during the traditional PM peak period. And the "rent-a-cops" who are there are usually above ground, not underground.

Ms. D'Agostino was certainly lucky, despite the lack of help from other commuters.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


The Coatesville Link could be one of many casualties of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's decision to phase out the Welfare to Work funding for transportation services across the state. The Daily Local News offered this account on Sunday:

In the past, the Link has been funded by an annual $130,000 in Federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grants, which are designed to help low-income residents travel to and from work, (TMA of Chester County Executive Director Michael) Herron said.

Those federal dollars were matched by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants amounting $10 million throughout the commonwealth. TANF grants are typically used to fund public assistance, employment training and child care programs.

On July 1, the Department of Public Welfare will cut the matching TANF grants by 30 percent, or $3 million, throughout the commonwealth, Herron said.

The cuts will impact the Link twofold.

"The bulk of the problem is that the federal grants require a match," Herron said. "Every dollar cut by the Department of Public Welfare is one less dollar that we receive from the federal government."

Instead of merely losing 30 percent of $130,000, or $39,000, Link will lose $78,000 a year in grants.

"In comparison to the commonwealth’s entire budget, that sounds like a drop in the bucket," Herron said. "But it will impact our services and other transportation management associations in Pennsylvania."

The upcoming July cuts, however, are the least of his worries.

"Assuming we get though this year, the problem is that next year the Department of Public Welfare plans to cut all $10 million of the matching TANF grants," Herron said.

He said he was confident that bus service would continue through this year, but just how the Link will survive in 2005-06 remains to be seen.
Daily Local News

For the TMA of Chester County, DPW funding cuts would also affect the SCCOOT bus in Southern Chester County. Other services in the city and four suburban counties - both operated by SEPTA and other entities - would also be impacted by the DPW's refusal to match the federal Welfare to Work grants.

Also on Sunday, the Inquirer ran an article on the same issue.