SEPTA’s Been Lying to You

The transit agency puts out a call for feedback on out-of-date or inaccurate information on signs and announcements.

septa_signHas anyone out there ridden the Fox Chase-Newtown shuttle bus lately?

Didn’t think so. SEPTA discontinued that replacement for the defunct Regional Rail train connecting the two more than a decade ago.

But it appears that riders on the Route 18 bus hear announcements that they can catch it as the bus pulls into its terminal at Fox Chase loop.

Caught the R6 at East Falls station lately? Announcements on the Route K bus say you can, but you  can’t — like all the other Regional Rail lines, the Manayunk/Norristown line has lost its number.*

These are just two of what are likely hundreds of examples of outdated or inaccurate information SEPTA gives riders of its buses, trolleys and trains.

Bad information not only confuses and misleads riders, it can get them lost, wasting time and money.

Which may explain why SEPTA is putting out calls for reports of inaccurate information that needs to be corrected or updated.

A SEPTA Youth Advisory Council member of my acquaintance, Marcus McKnight, received such a request this week. Via Facebook, he has already collected from fellow riders dozens of reports of bad info.

The reports fall into a few broad categories:

Announcements of routes that have been discontinued or relocated on buses and trains. Example: There was once a Route 16 bus that operated in the Northeast. SEPTA recently reassigned that number to one branch of what had been Route C. But some buses operating on Routes 70 and 77 on Cottman Avenue call it out when they approach the intersection of Cottman and Central avenues.

Lack of information about routings or destinations. For instance, Route 44 buses use two different routes into Center City from Ardmore — one via Montgomery Avenue, the other via Narberth Station. Not all bus destination signs tell riders which route the bus follows.

Signs that convey outdated information or do not inform riders of changes. The Route 64 bus, which used to run on Ellsworth and Federal streets, now follows Washington Avenue, but until recently, signs in Ellsworth-Federal station on the Broad Street Line still pointed to the old transfer points at either end of the station. Those have been covered over, but riders now have nothing to guide them to Washington Avenue and the rerouted bus.

I’m sure there are hundreds more such examples, so I thought it would be a good idea to help McKnight out by asking you to send in your reports. As SEPTA is now in catch-up mode, with a new capital program aimed at clearing a huge backlog of deferred maintenance, this is the right time for it to clear its backlog of incorrect information.

If you know of an incorrect or outdated announcement or sign on SEPTA, please send it to me at regional.rail.numbers@gmail.com. I’ll make sure they get to 1234 Market St. via McKnight or by other means.

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*This is perhaps as good a time as any to inform you about the fate of that campaign I launched here back in August to get SEPTA to restore the R-numbers. Even though the overwhelming majority of responses I got were in favor of the move, SEPTA media relations chief Jerria Williams informed me in response that the decision to drop them is final and will not be reconsidered. Given that, then at least SEPTA should color-code more than just the timetables, and doing that as part of this information cleanup would make eminent sense. And maybe while it’s at it, it could give the routes better names.


Sandy Smith Home and Real Estate Editor @MarketStEl
ssmith@phillymag.com