Friday, January 28, 2005


File this under "So Much For Those New Year's Resolutions"...

Today's Philadelphia Daily News (a fully-paid subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee) reports that the Philadelphia Police supervisor in charge of traffic control at the Sports Complex following last week's Iggles game all but called SEPTA liars following the post-game fiasco involving overcrowded access to the Pattison subway station:

SEPTA Assistant Operations Manager Pat Nowakowski told the Daily News that police, fearing traffic gridlock if thousands of departing fans walked across Pattison Avenue, closed the two north-of-Pattison-station entrances, forcing 17,000 fans to use the south-of-Pattison turnstiles.

The result was a human cattle drive that inched along, cheek-to- jowl, in the windswept arctic cold.

“I’m not looking to rip SEPTA,” said police Capt. Thomas Helker, who directed post-game traffic operations. “I just want to set the record straight. We did not close any entrances to any SEPTA stations. During the entire season, we have never closed any entrances to SEPTA stations after an Eagles game. Never.”

While I can't attest to that fact for Iggles games, the north head-houses are usually closed after Phillies games. The south head-houses are always open to allow for wheelchair access.

Yesterday, SEPTA stuck to its version of what caused the mess.

Apparently, Minister of Mis-Information Richard Maloney was unavailable to lie, leaving Nowakowski to do the lying for SEPTA.

Once they squeezed through the turnstiles and into mobbed Pattison station, fans saw “Eagles Express” trains stop halfway down the platform, fill up and leave them stranded.

Rider Rick Goldstein writes: “Best line after the game while each side of the tracks was six deep waiting for trains that came every 10-15 minutes: ‘One Team, One Dream, One Train.’”

For some inexpicable reason, SEPTA appears to have not stored trains on the lower level of Pattison as they have been over the course of this past season. In fairness, we don't know exactly how many Broad Street Line operators were able to make it into work last weekend, but still one would think that someone would know what the hell was going on...

SEPTA says it expected the usual 10,000 Eagles fans to take the train, not the 17,000 who showed up to avoid snowstorm-afflicted roads.

“SEPTA’s left-hand doesn’t know what the right-hand is doing,” wrote Steve Lapin of Melrose Park. “They knew how many people took the subway DOWN to the game. Did they not think that those same people will take the train BACK after the game?”

Of course not, Mr. Lapin. Ask anyone who has had to return from a Phillies game at "Da Bank" if the white-shirts at Pattison have a clue, and the answer would likely be "no."

But, wait, it gets better...

“Unfortunately, the mess was not limited to the subway,” wrote season-ticket holder Cynthia Gargano. “I waited with friends and family at Suburban Station for two hours for the R6. My parents waited for the R2, which finally arrived a little past 9, three hours since the last R2.

“An announcement was made that there were 45-50-minute train delays. We asked SEPTA employees what the situation with the R6 was, and no one could tell us. We called [SEPTA] customer service, but it was closed.

That didn't sound like 45-to-50 minute delays to me.

“We finally overheard a conversation with a SEPTA conductor that the R6 had been shut down due to snow in the tracks. I was very upset that SEPTA told no one about this and left us stranded. [It] is not only bad service but it is disrespectful to your customers. What happened on Sunday is inexcusable.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Gargano, what happened on Sunday is almost par for the course when it comes to Sports Express service, though service reportedly had been improving over the course of the Iggles season. As far as the Regional Rail side goes, having to search out a conductor to find out what's going on is about the only way people can figure out what the hell is going on...

By the way, wasn't Customer Dis-Services supposed to be open for extended hours during a snow emergency? Or was that yet another SEPTA lie to cover it's collective backsides?

“The return trip was a disaster,” wrote Richard Hammond. “The Eagles Express was slowed down by frozen switches and other Express trains in front of us. We were stuck between Olney and Fern Rock for 20 minutes.

“We got off the subway and walked over to the R5, which only runs every hour. There were about 100 people who were waiting on the freezing platform [for] 45 minutes. After waiting another 30 minutes, no train came. Finally, an announcement was made that an R5 was leaving Center City and would arrive in approximately 30 minutes.

“Many of us went in search of taxis and alternatives. So on a great day when SEPTA could have convinced a few suburbanites to use it more often, we were turned off by the service and SEPTA missed the opportunity to convert potential riders.”
Daily News

Well, stop me if you've heard that one before...

It can't be that surprising that SEPTA's communication to its riders - or lack thereof - essentially scared a lot of potential future riders away. The lack of communication from SEPTA has been a long standing problem even on a clear day during a typical mid-day. How can SEPTA be expected to successfully communicate problems with its passengers during severe conditions when it can't do so under normal conditions?

And you wonder why some suburban and upstate pols are hesistant to fund SEPTA...

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