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.