Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Just when it seemed that every media outlet appeared to be on the SEPTA bandwagon, the News of Delaware County weekly paper comes out with a scathing commentary on the sorry state of SEPTA:

SEPTA's board of directors must work for the auto industry.
Actually, here's the backgrounds of SEPTA's board members, based on Google searches and other sources...

They seem to be doing everything they can to make sure no one can ride, or afford to ride, a trolley, bus, train or subway in the Philadelphia region.

It's no wonder the highways are clogged.
That and the fact that the Regional Rail system in recent years has had numerous maintenance issues, some that are SEPTA's fault, some Amtrak's fault, and others mother nature's fault.

Why, we ask, is SEPTA often ranked nationwide as the mass transit company that offers the most expensive rides and worst service?
Because of a lack of operational leadership from Fearless Leaders and the Rotating Resumes at 1234 Market.

And now, just when you thought it couldn't get worse, it does. SEPTA officials are contemplating further cuts in service, including an end to weekend service region-wide. For the priviliege of having less, riders will get to pay more. Rate hikes are also proposed.

SEPTA officials say they cannot maintain present levels of service, bad or otherwise, without continued federal subsidies. They say shoring up SEPTA's $41 million deficit is a small price to pay for the savings in fuel and lost time if people had to drive instead.
There are some unofficial reports by other transit activists that indicate that SEPTA is probably cutting much more than it has to, although without seeing the raw data, I have no way of confirming this. If that's the case, then it's not a surprising tactics from SEPTA.

Yet other cities report cheaper mass transit systems with better and more frequent service. Washington D.C. has the Metro, San Francisco has its BART system. These cities do well to attract both local residents and visitors because they have transit systems that are affordable, pleasurable to ride and convenient. Other transit systems seem to run cheaper and better than SEPTA. So what's the deal here? Why does Philadelphia have to be the victim of decaying
mass transit?

Take your pick. Either complete apathy from Emperor Street's offices at Broad and Market, the incompentence at 1234 Market, or the fact that the unions have far too much power in Philadelphia compared to other major cities in the nation.

In the 1950s, when mass transit workers went on strike, it was big news. The strike crippled businesses and left thousands of workers and customers stranded without a way to get around.

Today, such a strike would still be news. But the impact would be much less severe, because of the declining ridership. SEPTA seems to have abandoned its customers, so the customers have fled the trains, subways and buses to the relative convenience of the automobile.

Yet even in this age when highways dominate, a good mass transit system is an attractive alternative to workers and tourists, especially in the city, where driving is more difficult.

It's easy to blame a lack of funding for SEPTA's woes. But other cities offer proof that a well-run and affordable system of public transportation can compete with the SUV and the roadway without continually going to the taxpayers to bail them out. SEPTA must find a way out of this downward spiral.
Hopefully, reports being issued by the House Republican leadership (via a committee headed by State Rep. Ron Raymond of Sharon Hill, which was noted yesterday) and the Governor's office will give SEPTA a push in the right direction.

Give people a reason to ride, and the riders will be there, ready to pay for the privliege of a comfortable, affordable and convenient ride, away from the hassles of the road. News of Delaware County
There really isn't much of a reason to ride a system which has slowly deteriorated over the past few years.

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