Wednesday, August 30, 2006


The Bucks County TMA is planning to introduce a new shuttle service in the Bensalem Township area on September 11. The new service, called the Bensalem RUSH, will provide peak-hour connections between SEPTA R-7 trains at Cornwells Heights Station and employment centers in Bensalem Township, including Philadelphia Park Casino, Neshaminy Mall, ITT Technical Institute, and the Bridgewater Industrial Park. This is the latest service that will be funded by the FTA's Job Access and Reverse Commute funding program. More comments on the new BCTMA services are coming later in this post...

Meanwhile, in the Great Valley area, several services will be initiated to expand transit services in from the Great Valley and Paoli areas to the Coatesville and West Chester areas. The TMA of Chester County will sponsor a new "B" route between Coatesville, Downingtown, and Exton to Great Valley, which is expected to begin sometime this fall. The service, along with two new SEPTA routes, are part of the US 202 Congestion Mitigation Strategy for the Section 300 construction between PA 29 and US 30.

The two new SEPTA routes will be the 205, which will cover some portions of the existing 206, but will be extended to office parks further up PA 29 and into Charlestown Twp. The 306 will connect Great Valley with West Chester and the Brandywine Town Center in Delaware, operating via Frazer, US 202, West Chester, Chadds Ford, and Wilmington Pike. The two SEPTA routes, however, will not be started until December at the earliest due to issues in awarding contracts to a third-party (read: Krap(f)'s). This raises a very troubling issue...

When SEPTA added two new routes "from scratch" in Lower Bucks - the late 203 between Woodbourne and Oxford Valley and the 304 between Torresdale and Bristol - SEPTA kept those routes in house. When the 305 between the Airport and Darby was created, that too was kept in house. However, with every new SEPTA service in Chester County (the original 202, 314, 204, 208, 207/WHIRL) came a contract with Krap(f)'s to operate the service as opposed to keeping the service in house.

Why SEPTA repeatedly opts to contract out new services in Chester County but not the other counties is beyond any rational logic, unless Krap(f)'s -which can't even run a halfway decent transit service between Coatesville and West Chester (including using school buses on several occasions) - is greasing the palms in West Chester and at 1234 Market.

Meanwhile, back to Bucks. From what I've been able to gather, the new Bensalem RUSH will honor SEPTA fare instruments (at least SEPTA passes) as it does on all their other RUSH routes and the Doylestown DART. As best as I can tell, SEPTA does not have a similar arrangement in place with the other TMAs in the region. This is yet another double standard that SEPTA is not really in a hurry to correct in the forseeable future. This is a relevant point, because there's been nothing to indicate that the TMACC's new "B" route will honor SEPTA fare instruments.


Now that the historic Bridge St Terminal station at the Frankford Terminal is close to completion, as is the new mulit-level parking deck, major changes to the bus boarding locations at Bridge-Pratt will take place this Sunday:

ROUTE 3 - One boarding berth on Pratt St is eliminated except during peak hours
ROUTE 5 - Buses will move up one berth on Pratt St, taking over one of the existing 3 berths; existing 5 berth will become a discharge-only berth for the 3 and 5
ROUTE 8 - Will continue to board inside the Bridge-Pratt complex along the Bridge St side (adjacent to Frankford Depot)
ROUTE 14 - Existing berths will become discharge-only for the 8, 24, and R; new berths will be moved to the current 20 berths
ROUTE 19 - Will be relocated to the current 24 berth
ROUTE 20 - Will be relocated to the current 19/67 berths
ROUTE 24 - Will be relocated to the current 88 berth on near the corner of Frankford Av/Pratt St (near the newsstand)
ROUTE 25, 73, and 84 - Will be relocated off of Bridge St to the south side of the new Bridge St Terminal building (parallel to Bustleton Av)
ROUTE 26 - Will continue to board inside the Bridge-Pratt complex along the Bridge St side (adjacent to Frankford Depot)
ROUTE 58 - NO CHANGE; will continue to board in the bus lane on the south side of the main terminal building
ROUTE 66 - Will be relocated off of Bridge St to the north side of the new terminal building
ROUTE 67 - Will be relocated to one of the current R berths
ROUTE 88 - Will be relocated off the terminal property and board on Bridge St at the current 66 bus berths
ROUTE R - One of the two berths will be eliminated

The new parking deck will officially open for business on Tuesday. The facility will be a "self-park" facility with no cashiers at the exit gate, however there will also be no free parking on the weekend ($3.25 daily rate weekdays, $2.00 on weekends).


Without having done a route-by-route review as of yet, here are a few of the more notable changes that took effect on Monday:

101/102 - Pre-construction service has been restored; mid-day 101 trolleys depart for Media at :00 and :30 after the hour; mid-day 102 trolleys depart for Sharon Hill at :15 and :45 after the hour

108 - Additional early evening service added between 19:00 and 22:00

110/111/117 - The bus stop at Penn State/Delaware County has been relocated to the new driveway to the front of the Commons Building

111 - Trip time adjustments to/from Chadds Ford

113 - Now service the new Chester Downs racetrack/slots parlor* at 4 St/Morton Av; additionally, the SEPTA web site now indicates that buses will terminate/originate in Marcus Hook at 4 St/Green St instead of Delaware Av/Green St

119 - New trip between Chester and Cheyney University added

120 - All weekday trips, with the exception of one early evening trip, are one-seat rides between 69 St and Cheyney (which was long overdue; the shuttles that were initiated a few years ago should never have seen the light of day)

Meanwhile, on Monday, the day of the schedule change, there were no new timetables available at 1234 Market, Suburban Station, or Market East. On Tuesday, new timetables were available at 1234 Market, however, not all of the new timetables were printed out at any location. As of yesterday, timetables for the 100, 104, 105, 108, 110, 114, and 118 were photocopied as opposed to the printed timetables for all other routes. To not have the new timetables available to the public on the day they take effect is just staggering.

And, to top it all off, yesterday, there were still timetables available for the old 122 route at 1234 Market. Brilliant...

* - Slots parlor subject to Harrisburg figuring out what the hell they're doing...

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Today's drill at the Strafford Rail Station was essentially nothing more than a major radio test to judge the inter-operability of the various county-wide radio systems along with SEPTA . Tredyffrin Twp Police, Amtrak Police, Radnor Fire Co., Berwyn Fire Co., and Narberth Ambulance were the agencies that were on scene along with Chester County's COMM-1 mobile command post and DelCo's Mobile 3 command post. For the most part, while there was a lot of radio traffic, this wasn't a traditional emergency drill that SEPTA has conducted in the past. R5 service through Strafford was largely unaffected.


As one can expect, the controversy over proposed slots parlors across the state seems to have many layers of controversy, ranging from nepotism among ranking officials of the state's gaming control board (aka business as usual in Harrisburg) to the governor shoving a highly unpopular property tax reform plan down the collective throats of the taxpayers and school boards across the state. It was only a matter of time before SEPTA ended up getting caught up in this mess in an indirect fashion.

According to an AP article, at least three SEPTA Board members are among the many investors, albeit small, in two groups vying for slots licenses in different parts of the state:

Two board members of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Pasquale Deon and James Schwartzman, joined Las Vegas Sands Inc. in its pursuit of a Bethlehem slots parlor by virtue of their long-standing personal and professional ties to company executives, a Sands spokesman said.

Another SEPTA board member and Philadelphia labor leader, Herman Wooden, joined a sprawling group of business people in the city in search of a company to run the casino. They eventually found Robert Earl, the founder of Planet Hollywood, said the group's spokesman, Jay Devine.

Many of the stakes owned by local partners will be tiny.

Great. Politics as usual at 1234 Market...


According to an posting in a scanning related group that I belong to, a drill is scheduled sometime around 10:00 hours today at the Strafford Train Station on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line. This is reported to be an communications interoperability drill involving Chester County, Delaware County, SEPTA, Amtrak, and the federal government in order to test the inter-op capabilities between the various communications systems. There's no word on what exactly the "incident" will be nor if it will have an direct impact on rail service.


Just in time for the electoral silly season, Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet) is pleased to offer the following gift for those who were seeking an extension of the R-6 Norristown line to Phoenixville, Pottstown and Reading...

"Schuylkill Valley Metro -- gone -- that isn’t going to happen."

This according to the Daily Local News in today's editions. While gracious enough to interrupt his very busy schedule as an Iggles commentator to play the role that the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania elected him to do - you know, that rather minor position known as Governor which requires the person to competently run the state government. Rendell told the editorial board of the Norristown Times-Herald (a sister paper to the Daily Local) that exact quote in describing the current status of the controversial project.

"We’ll never get the (necessary) funding."

The sad part is that anyone with half a brain (which automatically disqualifies 90 percent of teh Rotating Resumes at 1234 Market) could've figured that out.

The state’s share for the rail project is $300 million. The rest would have to come from the federal government or private investors. Rendell said cost-cutting measures had been discussed.

"In light of the new construction costs, it’s untenable," he said.The cost of highway construction has gotten so expensive the state is considering toll roads in the future to pay for building and maintaining the Commonwealth’s roadways, said the governor.

Obviously, Rendell seems to have bigger priorities in mind, such as, the Iggles pre-season and getting re-elected.

The Ink-waster reports in today's edition that the super-secret task force established by state Transportation czar Allen Biehler was in the process of pulling the plug on said task force, a group so secret, even SEPTA officials were left out of the loop (which, to an extent, may not have been such a bad idea at the time).

Biehler conceded yesterday that those discussions proved futile. No option that the group discussed, he said, would meet the stringent cost per passenger formulas needed to qualify for federal funding.

The task foce has not met since last fall, and Biehler said it will soon disband.

I think I speak for a majority of the riding public when I ask, "Who the hell knew you guys were meeting in the first place?"

Not surprsingly, many elected officals in the western suburbs, still recovering from the freshly placed wounds in their collective backs were less than thrilled with King Eddie's "no can do" addy-tude. Leading off, U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-6th/West Pikeland):

"It was unfortunate and premature for the governor to make that statement ... But there are still a lot of things to look at yet before someone says it's dead.

"Thirty million dollars, that’s a significant investment by taxpayers, which tells me that we still have a significant amount of work that should" be done to justify that expenditure...

"You can run with a diesel train, you can run with ground-level platforms, you can run with less frequent service ... you don't necessarily need the Cadilac version in order to reestablish service."

Next up, State Sen. James Refferty (R-44th/Collegeville):

"We’re all in agreement there’s a need for a line in the area."

Commissioner Thomas Jay Ellis (R-Montgomery County/Anger Management Class):

"The county’s definitely committed to this for a number of reasons." ... Ellis referenced the need for revitalizing local areas in cities like Pottstown and Reading where there is already development.

"We don’t want to see any more sprawl in this area," he said.

Barry Cassidy, executive director of Phoenixville’s Main Street program, said he was not sure of the status of the project.

"But if the Schuylkill Valley Metro is dead, then we will try to push for an (SEPTA) R-6 extension from Norristown," he said Wednesday.

Which is exactly what should've been done in the first place! DUH!

State Rep. Carole Rubley, R-157th, of Tredyffrin,called Rendell’s comments "discouraging." "It is discouraging to hear him say that because we will need his support to free up those funds," she said Wednesday, referring to the state’s $300 million share of the project. "It’s a terrific project. Whether its doable remains to be seen."

Rubley emphasized that there is still a lot of interest in the project and stakeholders were working to find creative solutions to pare down costs.

Whether or not the geniuses at 1234 Market get the message remains to be seen...

(NOTE: As of the time of this posting - 03:04 hours - the Inky had yet to update it's web site to accomodate posting of it's article.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Today's Ink-waster reports that the blue-ribbon commission established by Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet) is slated to release a preliminary report on the future of funding SEPTA and other systems across the Commonwealth. One comment that caught our attention was as follows:

Part of the commission's work has been to audit the efficiency of SEPTA and other state transit agencies. That report is not yet available, but SEPTA's efficiency "stacked up quite well among transit organizations of similar size," [PennDOT czar Allen] Biehler said.

You're kidding, right? Either this audit was yet another rubber stamp of the status quo at 1234 Market, or mass transit in this country is poorly managed across the board (the article does note that the article should be available on the commission's web site as early as today)...

The preliminary report reveals little of the commission's preferences but does affirm that SEPTA has not been exaggerating budget woes, SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said.

"It confirms and validates the scope of the financial crisis that we have been struggling with for years," Maloney said. "For us, that is a great step forward... . It isn't an answer, but it's a good starting point."

A really good starting point would be for the Minister of Mis-Information to get served his walking papers, but that's been a long standing position of this blog for quite some time...

The audit did note SEPTA's "unusually large" 15-member board. It noted that 80 percent of the SEPTA board, but only 20 percent of SEPTA's riders and local funding, come from outside Philadelphia, creating friction between the city and its suburban counties.

Friction between the city and suburbs? Really, you don't say... Even the most veteran of SEPTA observers could've said that the friction has existed.

Once the report is available on the state's web site, I'll review it and offer more comments...


Some major timetable changes are in place on the Red Arrow side starting next Monday. For starters, the 122 will be absorbed into the 107, while the 107 will be extended from Springfield Mall to the Lawrence Park Shopping Center in Broomall. This will be the third different route designator for service between MacDade Mall (or what's left of it) and the Springfield Mall in the past 5 years. The 122 service was previously known as the 111 before the 111 was re-branded as the 110 express service between 69 St and Granite Run Mall (with an extension to Chadds Ford).

The 101/102 will revert back to it's standard scheduling as opposed to the same departure/arrival times that had been in place due to construction on the MSHL main line between Drexel Hill Jct and 69 St. The 108 will now be operated entirely out of Red Arrow as opposed to the current Red Arrow/Southern split, presumably as a cost saving measure. Will try to post more information as it becomes available...