Monday, January 24, 2005


And now, the latest in a series of insensitive moves by SEPTA, which I'm sure Fearless Leader and the Rotating Resumes at 1234 Market don't exactly want legislators in Harrisburg to catch wind of...

According to the Lansdale-Doylestown Intelligencer, residents in neighborhoods and developments in both Doylestown Boro and Township have been jolted from their sleep by train horns as part of overnight yard movements that weren't exactly what they wanted to deal with.

"It's a terrific annoyance," said Joe Mettalia, one of several people living near the station who have complained about the noise. "There's no rhyme or reason to it."

Mr. Mettalia's statement (highlighted in bold) is a candidate for "Oxy-moron of the Year" though the term "Competent management" when referring to 1234 Market may edge that statement out in the end...

Mettalia and his neighbors want the noise between midnight and 3 a.m. to stop and have been frustrated that their pleas for an end to the problem weren't answered.

But on Thursday, the agency that operates the trains and the station apologized and said it would make immediate changes to ensure the horns would no longer be a problem.

"We heard from the community up there, and we're going to stop it immediately," said Richard Maloney, a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority spokesman. "We notified (local government officials) that we understand it was disruptive. We apologize for it."

Here's a concept that the Minister of Mis-Information may want to pass along to the Rotating Resumes. How about notifying officials BEFORE deciding to disrupt a neighborhood?

The apology came on a day when state Senator Joe Conti voiced his frustration that SEPTA officials were "spectacularly unresponsive" to phone calls he made in an attempt to correct the problem.

"You would think that with the funding needs of SEPTA, they would be more responsive," the Bucks County Republican said.

Of course not, Senator. Just ask the folks in Bristol Township...

It's not the first time the Doylestown train station has been the target of complaints about noise after midnight, Conti said.

"I characterize it as 'Groundhog Day,' " Conti said. "This is probably my third go-round with this issue. It happened about 20 years ago when then Congressman Peter Kostmayer was able to make a difference. Eight to 10 years ago, it happened again, and Congressman Jim Greenwood (helped resolve the problem)."

And, we'll probably be back 10 years from now discussing this issue again...

It was about two weeks ago when residents began hearing noise they weren't used to between midnight and 3 a.m. Although they've become accustomed to and accepting of train activity during rail service hours, the early-morning horns are hardly common.

"I've been woken up at 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 ...," said Mettalia, who lives in the Doylestown Hunt development in Doylestown Township. "Sometimes it's every couple of hours."

That seems to be the only consistent schedule that SEPTA has been able to maintain on the Doylestown branch (and this is before the blizzard that we're referring to).

Maloney, the SEPTA spokesman, said the noise resulted from a change in the way the agency stored trains at the station. For the past few weeks, SEPTA stored train cars overnight farther down the track than it normally does, closer to Doylestown Hunt.

"It's a relatively new procedure," he said. "We didn't realize it was disturbing the residents."

File this one under "dog bites man."

John Davis, Doylestown Borough's manager, said it was his understanding that an increase in the number of people boarding trains in Doylestown prompted SEPTA to add one or more cars at the station. Because there are more train cars and limited space to store them overnight at the station, some cars are stored farther down the tracks.

Bucks County Commissioner Charley Martin, who represents his county on SEPTA's board of directors, said he was unaware of the problem until a reporter told him about it Thursday. He said he had sympathy for the neighbors.

"If it doesn't get resolved, I'm sure I'll hear about it," Martin said. "Hopefully, it will be resolved fairly easily." Lansdale/Doylestown Intelligencer

We're assuming that Martin will be able to hear over the noise of the train horns...

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