After weeks of relative peace on the equipment front, there was yet another bus shortage encountered at Red Arrow on Thursday. This resulted in an absolute mess on the 4:05pm 104 to West Chester, which is supposed to be an express but instead ran as a local. This bus didn't even arrive at the terminal until 4:20pm to begin its run. The trip departed at 4:22pm, and arrived in West Chester well over a half hour late. It didn't help that the operator was stuck behind a tractor-trailer for a stretch between Delchester and Chester Roads and didn't even think enough to pass said truck. On a side note, the 2:45pm from West Chester was crowded yet again, and arrived about 15 minutes late yet again. If that doesn't send some red flags at 1234 Market about the need for PM peak express service from West Chester to 69 St, then I don't know what does.
The 92 and 104 buses are expected to be detoured away from the West Chester University campus next Saturday due to the annual WCU Homecoming Parade. With High Street expected to be blocked off, I would expect a lot of headaches on Saturday morning for riders on both lines.
Meanwhile, SEPTA is planning to display the first of 12 New Flyer DE40LF diesel-electric hybrid buses on Thursday between 9:00am and 2:00pm on 12 St near Arch, across from the Reading Terminal Market. These buses will be assigned to Southern, and will be numbered 5601-5612. One has to question the logic of this numbering plan as these buses will be decidedly different from the D40LFs currently on the road. The next batch of 100 D40LFs - which will be numbered 5613-5712 - are expected during the first part of next year. As noted earlier, the bulk of the buses (up to 85) will go to Midvale, with Frontier getting the rest.
SEPTA is apparently going ahead with a purchase of MCI D4500 cruisers, despite a long delay since the demos made their apperances on SEPTA property over the summer. The 15 cruisers (tentatively numbered 6000-6014) will be assigned to Red Arrow, and used on the 104 and 124/125 (though, I wouldn't be shocked if they slip one in on a Sunday 120 trip; between the large ridership on those trips and the amount of luggage carried, a cruiser would be perfect for some late Friday night and/or Sunday trips). No firm delivery date has been set, nor has it been determined if SEPTA will "piggy-back" onto New Jersey Transit's massive MCI order, as at least 30 other agencies around the country have done.
As a result of the arrival of the MCIs, SEPTA is planning to restructure the 124/125 service. Red Arrow would operate service from Center City to Gulph Mills and points north, bypassing Wissahickon, with Frontier operating service from Wissahickon to Gulph Mills and points north, using NABIs and New Flyers (when the arrive next year). Considering that express service between Center City and Wissahickon is provided by the 9 and 27 buses, this shouldn't prove to be a major issue.
The Bucks County TMA is at it again, as a fourth RUSH service is being planned for the Street Rd (PA 132) corridor in Lower Bucks. The planned "Street Rd RUSH" is tentatively slated to operate between Lower Southampton, Warminster, and Bensalem via PA 132, with buses to serve the Warminster, Trevose, and Cornwells Heights stations. For some reason, this sounds remarkably similar to SEPTA's planned Route 303 bus, which would also have operated along PA 132, but between PA 611 and Bustleton Pike, and which would have operated bewteen Doylestown and Neshaminy. In any case, the "Street Rd RUSH" could begin operating as early as next March.
In other LBC news (that's Lower Bucks County for those of you who don't speak "Lower Bucks-ese"), SEPTA is planning to rehab the Croydon and Levittown-Tullytown stations along the R7 Trenton line. SEPTA Board Chairman - and Bucks County land developer - Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. recently bragged to a local Bucks County newspaper that SEPTA had invested nearly $30 million in recent years to improve service. My question is when do the other counties get their fair share of the pie from SEPTA? I mean, some of the stations along the Marcus Hook line look as though they could use a little sprucing up...