SEPTA Adds 10 More Cars to Roster, Reshuffles Service Starting Monday

SEPTA Interim Weekday Schedule

Photo: Jeff Fusco

SEPTA announced this afternoon (July 15th) that it has secured 10 more rail cars from Maryland, and as a result, the interim weekday schedule in effect for the duration of the Silverliner V car shortage will be adjusted again effective Monday, July 18th.

Five cars from the Maryland Area Rail Commuter Service (MARC) will be on the property in time for Monday’s schedule, and five more are expected by the middle of the week. When the second set of five cars arrives, it will bring to 28 the total number of leased cars supplementing the still-in-service Silverliner IV electric-multiple-unit railcars.

The additional cars along with adjustments to the way the cars currently in service are deployed should alleviate crowding on the busiest Regional Rail lines. Read more »

Farmhouse Friday: A Landmark Restoration in Thornbury

148 Freedom Rider Trail, West Chester, Pa. 19382 (Thornbury Township) | Images from Keller Williams Luxury Homes International

148 Freedom Rider Trail, West Chester, Pa. 19382 (Thornbury Township) | Images from Keller Williams Luxury Homes International

What you see above is a common, if unusually large, Pennsylvania farmhouse whose oldest portion dates to circa 1797. What makes it special, besides the care and attention that went into its restoration, is the person who built it.

That person was Squire Thomas Cheyney, a relatively unsung hero of the Battle of the Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777. (You may recognize the name because of the historically black university a few miles up the road, but that was named for a different member of the family who lived later.) Cheyney delivered crucial intelligence to Gen. George Washington about the direction from which British forces were advancing. That intelligence allowed Washington to shift his troops, saving his army from total annihilation in this early Revolutionary War defeat for the Americans.

“Had it not been for the Squire’s actions on Sept. 11, Washington would have lost the war and we would be sending our tax dollars to Great Britain,” said the house’s owner and restorer, John Murphy. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: East Market’s First Building

The future home of the area's second, and Center City's first, MOM's Organic Market is almost complete. | Photos: Sandy Smith except where indicated

The future home of the area’s second, and Center City’s first, MOM’s Organic Market is almost complete. | Photos: Sandy Smith except where indicated

MOM is getting ready to welcome her neighbors to East Market come this fall.

That’s MOM as in “MOM’s Organic Market,” the first tenant signed for the mixed-use development that will, when complete, occupy the entire block bounded by 11th, 12th, Market and Chestnut streets. Its space on the street level of 34 S. 11th St. is closing in on completion, and work is well under way on getting the insides of the building ready for two more tenants, including a new one developer National Real Estate Development (NRED) announced yesterday (July 13): Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), a national architectural firm with Pennsylvania roots whose Philadelphia office is currently at 123 South Broad.

NRED used the occasion of the BCJ announcement to invite the media in to take a look around and see how construction is progressing on the first building to be completed as part of the multiphase project. The building, which was once an annex of Snellenburg’s department store and was most recently home to the Philadelphia Family Court, has been given a Modernist factory-like treatment by project architect BLT Architects. Read more »

SEPTA Shows Us Just How Hard-to-Detect Those Silverliner V Stress Fractures Are

SEPTA Assistant GM for Operations Ron Hopkins describes how the equalizer bar (gray bar at left center in photo) is mounted onto the truck of a Silverliner V. | Photos: Sandy Smith

SEPTA Assistant GM for Operations Ron Hopkins describes how the equalizer bar (gray bar at left center in photo) is mounted onto the truck of a Silverliner V. | Photos: Sandy Smith

This morning (July 14th) at its Overbrook Maintenance Facility, SEPTA Assistant General Manager for Operations Ron Hopkins took the assembled media on an inspection tour to share what its maintenance staff and contractors have been doing to identify where and how the stress fractures that have sidelined its fleet of Silverliner V railcars occurred.

SEPTA and its contractor LTK have been conducting more intensive inspections of all of the trucks for the Silverliner Vs in the two weeks since a fractured equalizer bar and the discovery of tiny cracks in other bars forced the agency to pull all 120 cars out of service. Read more »

An Idea Factory Adds a “Quiet Car” for Concentration

Biovid's new Bristol headquarters takes advantage of its building's historic charm and accommodates both social interaction and spaces for solitary concentration, like the "phone booths" at right in this photo. | Photos: Halkin Mason Photography for KSS Architects

Biovid’s new Bristol headquarters takes advantage of its building’s historic charm and accommodates both social interaction and spaces for solitary concentration, like the “phone booths” at right in this photo. | Photos: Halkin Mason Photography for KSS Architects

“New ideas need old buildings,” the celebrated urbanist author Jane Jacobs once wrote.

And in his search for a place where his firm could meet the demands of a changing marketplace while making his employees happier and more productive, BioVid President Andrew Aprill wound up settling on an old industrial building in the heart of Bristol.

With the help of a team of employees and the services of KSS Architects, Aprill took the strong bones of the old factory and changed it from a place for making things to one for making ideas. In the process, he and the architects came up with a solution to one of the most vexing problems of the contemporary workplace: making room for heads-down, focused work in an environment designed to encourage collaboration and the generation of new ideas.

Behold the office with a “quiet car,” the solution KSS proposed for the problem. Read more »

An Idea Factory Adds a “Quiet Car” for Concentration

Biovid's new Bristol headquarters takes advantage of its building's historic charm and accommodates both social interaction and spaces for solitary concentration, like the "phone booths" at right in this photo. | Photos: Halkin Mason Photography for KSS Architects

Biovid’s new Bristol headquarters takes advantage of its building’s historic charm and accommodates both social interaction and spaces for solitary concentration, like the “phone booths” at right in this photo. | Photos: Halkin Mason Photography for KSS Architects

“New ideas need old buildings,” the celebrated urbanist author Jane Jacobs once wrote.

And in his search for a place where his firm could meet the demands of a changing marketplace while making his employees happier and more productive, BioVid President Andrew Aprill wound up settling on an old industrial building in the heart of Bristol.

With the help of a team of employees and the services of KSS Architects, Aprill took the strong bones of the old factory and changed it from a place for making things to one for making ideas. In the process, he and the architects came up with a solution to one of the most vexing problems of the contemporary workplace: making room for heads-down, focused work in an environment designed to encourage collaboration and the generation of new ideas.

Behold the office with a “quiet car,” the solution KSS proposed for the problem. Read more »

Explainer: What SEPTA’s Inspectors Should Be Asking About Those Silverliner V Wheel Assemblies

According to both SEPTA and a veteran structural engineer, the original stress tests on the Silverliner V equalizer bars, shown here, may not have captured all the loads that could cause the part to fail at the welds. |Photo: SEPTA

According to both SEPTA and a veteran structural engineer, the original stress tests on the Silverliner V equalizer bars, shown here, may not have captured all the loads that could cause the part to fail at the welds. Photo | SEPTA

SEPTA and Hyundai Rotem have three possible options for returning the Silverliner V railcars to revenue service:

  • Repair the damaged equalizer bars.
  • Replace the damaged bars and attach the new ones to the existing trucks.
  • Build all-new trucks with a different equalizer bar design.

According to General Manager Jeff Knueppel, the first option looks like it will be ruled out. But before it can be ruled out completely, and before SEPTA and Hyundai Rotem can figure out which of the other two options to pursue, they have to determine what caused the damaged equalizer bars crack and how they developed. Read more »

SEPTA GM on This Morning’s Commute: We’re Getting There

septa-regional-rail-940x540

Two of the three trainsets SEPTA has borrowed from Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration and New Jersey Transit went into service for this morning’s commute, Day One of the new interim weekday schedule. So how did the morning commute go?

According to General Manager Jeff Knueppel, not bad — considering. “We’re still seeing delays and crowding on the railroad, but we’re continuing to make things better,” he said at a news conference on the afternoon of Monday, July 11th.

Knueppel said that the agency was now actually running more car-trips than on its regular weekday schedule. (A car trip is when one railcar completes a run between end points. For example, a six-car train that runs from Lansdale to Center City makes six car trips.) But it’s doing so with longer, less frequent trains of six to eight cars each, so while the total number of car trips has increased, the total number of train trips remains well below normal weekday levels. The new schedule’s figure of 574 train trips is up from 549 last week but still below the normal weekday figure of 788. Read more »

That House Out There: Into The Woods Outside Pottstown

1315 Warwick Furnace Rd., Pottstown, Pa. 19465 | Photos: Mike Irby for James A. Cochrane, Inc.

We’d have loved to feature this home in our “Farmhouse Friday” department, but there were a few problems with that.

First, there’s no farm. That’s not an insurmountable problem, as we’ve featured many farmhouses in decidedly urban settings.

But more important is this: It’s not a farmhouse. Instead, it’s a strikingly urbane contemporary home with just a touch of the rustic about it, enhanced by being set in the middle of a 10-acre wooded plot overlooking French Creek. Read more »

SEPTA: Don’t Expect to See Silverliner Vs Back Before Labor Day

SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel says it's highly unlikely it can put its SIlverliner V railcars back in service before Labor Day. | Photo by O484~enwiki from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel says it’s highly unlikely it can put its Silverliner V railcars back in service before Labor Day. | Photo by O484~enwiki from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

While SEPTA is working to get additional service for Regional Rail riders in place, it’s also working to get the sidelined Silverliner V railcars back in service. And at a Friday afternoon press conference, general manager Jeff Knueppel said that efforts to get them rolling again sooner look unlikely to succeed.

“More and more, it looks like a repair job that will get them back in service sooner is unlikely, but we haven’t ruled it out,” Knueppel said.

Currently, engineers from SEPTA, Hyundai Rotem, and LTK Engineering Services are both performing a top-to-bottom inspection of one of the five Silverliner V cars with no signs of metal fatigue and analyzing the damaged trucks to identify how the stress fractures occurred and what caused them. In addition to the five cars, 37 of the 240 trucks on hand have no signs of fatigue. A total of 264 of the 480 equalizer beams have stress fractures. Read more »

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