SEPTA Got Better with Joe Casey at the Bat


Running a large transit system may just be one of the most thankless tasks anyone could take on. You have the responsibility for moving hundreds of thousands of people daily, usually with less money than you’d like to have for the job. Many of those people you move will not like the way your employees get them there, or fail to do so in a timely manner—and give them bad attitude while they ride. And chances are that the elected officials to whom you must answer will be among your most demanding critics while doing little to enable you to answer the criticism.

It’s a rare individual who manages to surmount even some of this to enact real change and improvement. The last person to do this at SEPTA was David Gunn, a name that’s become virtually holy among transit industry professionals for his ability to make every transit system he touched better, with the possible exception of his last, Amtrak.

SEPTA’s current general manager, Joe Casey, is Gunn’s equal—or his superior— in just about every measure. As he now takes his valedictory lap prior to his retirement Sept. 30, it might be worth pointing out why. Read more »

Logan Orchard and Market: The Showdown at Wingohocking Creek

The Logan Triangle | Google Maps

The Logan Triangle | Google Maps

From Marshall Street on the east to 11th on the west, from Louden Street on the north to Roosevelt Boulevard on the south, the Logan Triangle is a 40-acre wasteland. But it could be 40 acres of parkland, and gardens, and tiny homes that could sit lightly on the land.

That’s the 40-acre opportunity Paul Glover and a collection of like-minded souls see in the Triangle, which became said wasteland in 1986 after yet another gas-main explosion took out several houses and revealed just how far most of the others around them had sunk (more on that later). This vision sounded appealing to the 50 or so people who came out to the Friends Center on July 13th for a meeting to discuss how to get it off the ground.

But there’s a hitch: realizing the vision would require the cooperation of the owner of those 40 acres. Since 2012, that’s been the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

Read more »

SEPTA Pope Passes: Back to Square One — Now With a Lottery

SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015

SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015

SEPTA announced at a 3 p.m. news conference today that it will push the reset button on sales of those special one-day Regional Rail passes for the visit of Pope Francis September 26th and 27th.

Sales of the special one-day Regional Rail passes for the papal visit will resume on Monday, August 3rd.

But this time, you’ll have to be lucky — not fast — to get one, for sales will be conducted by lottery using a system developed by Philadelphia-based Ticketleap. Read more »

SEPTA “Pope Pass” on Sale Now: How to Get One

Pope Francis, miqu77 / Pope Passes sample, via SEPTA.

Pope Francis, miqu77 / Pope Passes sample, via SEPTA.

UPDATE [10:58 a.m.]: SEPTA has announced that it is suspending sales of the one-day pope passes for the day due to technical difficulties. It will provide news tomorrow morning about when sales will resume.

UPDATE [9:50 a.m.]: The SEPTA Pope Pass site is apparently experiencing technical difficulties:

ORIGINAL: SEPTA may have pushed the Secret Service to be less secretive about how people will get into and out of town for Pope Francis’ visit on Sept. 26th and 27th, but it’s kept the workings of the website for ordering the special one-day Regional Rail passes,, under tight wraps.

Until this morning, when the site went live at 9 a.m. So, like all of you, we just got a chance to take it for a test run.

Here’s what you will find when you visit the site

Read more »

SEPTA Announces Papal Visit Pass Sales and Station Details

UPDATE [7/20/2015]: The passes are on sale now. Here’s everything you need to know to get one.

ORIGINAL: The special one-day Papal Visit Pass required to ride SEPTA’s streamlined Regional Rail service during Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia on September 26th and 27th will go on sale at 9 a.m. on Monday, July 20th, according to a news release SEPTA issued this afternoon.

Everyone who plans on riding Regional Rail into Center City to see the pope — estimated at 180,000 customers each day — must buy one of these passes in order to board a Regional Rail train at one of the 18 Regional Rail stations that will be open. Read more »

SEPTA and the Pope’s Visit: Everything You Need to Know

SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015

SEPTA Pope Map, updated 7/20/2015

UPDATE [7/28/2015]: SEPTA, after suspending sales of papal passes on the day they went on sale, will resume sales through a lottery starting on August 3rd.

UPDATE [7/20/2015]: The passes are on sale now. Here’s everything you need to know to get one.

UPDATE [7/13/2015]: SEPTA has announced papal pass sales and station details. Plus, see above for the updated station map.

ORIGINAL: Thinking of sticking around town when Pope Francis comes to call on Sept. 26th and 27th, at the end of the World Meeting of Families?

If you’re not set on seeing His Holiness, might I recommend that you plan a visit somewhere else and rent out your place to one of the 1.5 million or so visitors who will also descend on the city that weekend. Leave your guests these pieces of advice, though — and follow them yourself if you are sticking around town: Read more »

It’s Not too Late to Rescue Sharswood From PHA Eminent Domain Plan


“Plan, or be planned for.”

This was the mantra community activists in Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood adopted in their efforts to regain control of the neighborhood’s future from the institutions that threatened to overrun it from the south.

On the other side of the river, a number of Sharswood residents thought that what they were engaging in with the Philadelphia Housing Authority was planning: a joint process by which they and the PHA would together determine the neighborhood’s future course after the authority demolished the Norman Blumberg Apartments at its center.

Then, as the final plans were still officially months away, the PHA revealed its hand: Sharswood was being planned for. Read more »

Council Committee OKs PHA Land Grab in Sharswood


At Tuesday’s Philadelphia City Council Rules Committee hearing, Philadelphia Housing Authority President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah painted a picture of a Sharswood whose residents lived in affordable homes with access to a thriving business district, good education, health care and employment opportunities, the product of its redeveloping some 1,300 parcels of land it wishes to acquire via eminent domain with new homes, offices and retail space.

The Rules Committee bought the picture, voting to refer a bill allowing the PHA to proceed with the land acquisition to the full Council. But some 20 city residents who testified against the bill weren’t buying it at all. Read more »

NLNA Digs Into Two Big Developments, Including Ortlieb Square

The Ortlieb Square Plan | Photo: Sandy Smith, Rendering: JKR Partners

The Ortlieb Square Plan | Photo: Sandy Smith, Rendering: JKR Partners

Update (June 5, 4:00 p.m.): John Farina, developer/builder with U.S. Construction, tells Property that the Ortlieb Square project is on pace to move forward and could start construction by August 1. Also, we originally reported that Ortlieb Square would be duplexes. The project will actually be 36 townhomes with three apartments (“flats”) above the corner retail. We have updated the post below to reflect these changes.

Original: Had things gone as originally planned, two developers would likely have come before the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association Zoning Committee at its May meeting on the 18th to present their plans for large-scale residential development on two equally large lots in the neighborhood.

But Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments eventually decided not to pursue redevelopment of the razed Ortlieb brewery at American and Poplar streets, so as a result, one developer/builder—U.S. Construction—and one architectural firm—JKR Partners—ended up giving presentations on both it and a similar project planned for the southwest corner of Fifth Street and Fairmount Avenue.

In basic concept and layout, the two projects are nearly identical: The Ortlieb Square development is to have 36 townhomes, while the Fairmount Avenue project will have 38. Both will include a structure at a prominent intersection that combines ground-level corner retail space with apartments above as a means of enlivening the development. Three apartments would sit above the corner retail at Ortlieb Square.

This would ordinarily mean that the neighbors and members of the Zoning Committee would take a fine-toothed comb to the proposal and knock it about over issues of building height, lot coverage, effect on parking and traffic and the like. But there was an important difference between the two projects that altered the course of conversation for one of them. Read more »

Here Are Maps of All of SEPTA’s Proposed Route Changes

Spring is here, which means it’s time for SEPTA’s annual planning ritual. The Annual Service Plan is where SEPTA lays out the route changes it intends to make in its bus and rail lines and puts them before you, the riding public, for feedback.

This year, SEPTA plans changes to 16 bus and rail routes in the city and the suburbs to improve operating efficiency and beef up service. Here’s a map of each proposed change with a brief explanation: Read more »

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