Upper Merion Residents Seek to Derail KofP Train Proposal

NoKOPRail Facebook graphic

While the business interests and developers in King of Prussia are all in on SEPTA’s proposed Norristown High-Speed Line spur, a bunch of Upper Merion Township residents feel they’re being, ahem, railroaded — and they don’t like it one bit.

They’ve taken their case against the extension to the public in the form of a Facebook page and an online petition on Change.org.

Township resident Dan Cowhey, one of the organizers of the Facebook campaign, gave several reasons for the local opposition to the spur. They fall into four broad categories: Read more »

This Unofficial SEPTA Map Highlights What Riders Really Care About

SEPTA Frequency Map

In much of the city, SEPTA is already convenient: Just head to the bus or trolley stop and a vehicle should show up soon. Map by Thomson Kao.

Most transit maps show would-be riders where the buses and trains go. Which is fine, as far as it goes — and if everyone were a mere commuter, maps like these would fill the bill.

But transit users in cities are a different breed. They often use transit not just to get to and from work, but also to get around in general, and for them, how often the buses and trains run often matters much more than where they run.

Frequent transit service also benefits the transit agency by boosting casual ridership. If a rider knows that they can simply walk to a nearby bus stop or train station and get on a vehicle in a matter of minutes, they’re more likely to ride and less likely to drive.

Which is what makes Thomson Kao‘s unofficial SEPTA frequency map so valuable. It shows the corridors where riders can just show up and board a vehicle in fairly short order.  Read more »

How Those SEPTA Stop Announcements Work — and What to Do When They Don’t

5th St Station

The signs outside say 5th Street. But what does the announcement say? (Photo by Flickr user Michael Hicks, used under CC-BY-SA-2.0)

One of my colleagues asked one recent morning, “Why is it that the stop announcements on SEPTA are off so much of the time?”

This didn’t come as a total shock to me, for I’ve been on trains, mostly on the Market-Frankford Line, where the automated stop announcements were way out of sync with the views from the train windows. But what did surprise me was how often he said he experienced this phenomenon: “Frequently,” he said, mentioning the Route 10 trolley and the El in particular.

So that makes at least two of us who recall out-of-sync stop announcements on the El. And there’s been many a late night when the Broad Street Line train I took announced every station four times: twice on the way and twice when the train got there.

It was time to get to the bottom of this problem.

So I put the question to SEPTA: Just how do those automated stop announcements work? Read more »

The Five Biggest Philadelphia Transportation Stories of 2015

transit-year-in-review

If anything, 2015 was the Year of the Bike on the transportation front locally, with major new facilities opening up the promise of faster, easier bike commuting, adding steam to a steady climb in practical bike use. And one major event that promised to disrupt lives all over the city instead opened everyone’s eyes to the potential contained in car-free streets (done right this time; no one’s interested in bringing the Chestnut Street Transitway back from the dead). But the biggest transportation story of the year is the one that’s still not over yet. Herewith, my picks for Top Philadelphia Transportation Developments of 2015: Read more »

London Tube Now Accepting Apple Pay

Credit: Shutterstock.com

Credit: Shutterstock.com

Apple Pay made its London debut earlier this week, which means that travelers and Brits alike can purchase merchandise at over 250,000 shops with a simple tap-and-go of their smartphone. One of the biggest operations accepting Apply Pay? The London Underground. Here’s how it works: you simply hold up your device  — linked to your credit card or bank account with Apple Pay— to a sensor upon entering the metro, zip through the turnstile, then tap a sensor upon exiting which determines your fare. Read more »

PATCO Will Begin Selling Papal Visit Passes Monday

SEPTA isn’t the only public transit agency tightening up its transit plan for Pope Francis’ visit in September.

PATCO, the light rail line between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, will on Monday begin selling special train passes for the events, CBS Philly reports. The transit agency will issue select Freedom passes at their Broadway station and on their website. Without these specific fare cards, PATCO riders will not be allowed to board trains on September 26th or 27th, the article said. Read more »

What If You Could Get from Philly to D.C. on Public Transit?

Septa regional rail train

There are a few ways to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.: You can shell out the dough for Amtrak (expensive!), sit in traffic on I-95 (exhausting!), take the bus (slow!) or fly (bank-breaking!). That could change in the coming years, making travel between the two cities much easier and cheaper.

MARC and DART, Maryland and Delaware’s respective public transportation agencies, are currently discussing the possibility of bridging a long-time gap between Newark — a DART bus hub and SEPTA’s southern terminus — and Perryville, Maryland, MARC’s northernmost commuter rail stop, 20 miles away. Right now, that stretch has no commuter transportation, save for Amtrak and regional bus lines.  Read more »

Apple Picks Philly to Debut New Transit App

Screen shots of the new Apple Transit, set to debut soon in Philly.

Screen shots of the new Apple Transit, set to debut soon in Philly.

Apple has chosen Philadelphia and nine other North American and European cities to debut its new Transit app, which is basically Apple Maps but for public transportation. It provides step-by-step directions across multiple modes of transportation like buses, trains, subways and walking.

It’s debuting simultaneously in Baltimore, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. It will also be available in 300 cities in China. (Yes, 300.) Read more »

The Media Is Vastly Underestimating SEPTA’s Constituency

Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

For the first time ever in a Philadelphia mayoral campaign, all of the candidates in this year’s primary tipped their proverbial hats to the importance of multimodal transit.

This was no more apparent than at the 2015 Better Mobility Forum, which was attended by five of the six Democratic contenders, along with Republican candidate Melissa Murray Bailey. The event, which was moderated by Citified, covered once-niche, increasingly mainstream topics like “Vision Zero,” the elitism of bike lanes, and ways to improve SEPTA. Half the candidates claimed to ride the bus to work, and Bailey said she is part of a SEPTA family.

Hosting a forum on matters of mobility, during the thick of election season no less, is one step forward for the nascent — but viable — political constituency surrounding transit issues, which includes bike advocates, civically-minded pedestrians, and residents who rely on public transportation. That last subset in particular — people dependent on SEPTA — is robust.

And yet, we in the press often minimize how many Philadelphians fall into that camp. Read more »

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