On a related note, the Inquirer ran a story today on the incompatibility of the Philadelphia Police/Fire radio system with SEPTA's newer radio system.
Two years ago, the city installed a new, $54 million radio system for fire and police units. For the first time, a police commander on the scene of a major situation could switch to a common channel to talk to a commanding fire chief.
But the 800-megahertz radios are not on the same frequency as radios used by transit police working for SEPTA. Also, the new police and fire radios do not work underground in rail and subway tunnels.
With rising concerns about terrorism, the lack of radio links between transit police and the city's police and fire departments is a major concern for SEPTA officials.
"It scares us," said James Jordan, head of security for SEPTA. "If you have two firefighters standing around the bend of a tunnel, they can't talk to each other."
Jordan said it would cost more than $20 million to wire SEPTA's 25-mile tunnel system with repeaters to carry police and fire signals underground - money that neither the city nor the transit agency has.
Jordan said SEPTA has received $3.1 million in federal funding to explore ways to enhance its radio system. In the meantime, SEPTA dispatchers keep radios from the fire and police departments on hand as a stopgap measure.
"In an emergency, that's not anyone's idea of an effective system," Jordan said.