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


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 »

How Will SEPTA Regional Rail Riders Get Where They Want to Go Tuesday?

Fortunately for SEPTA, a cracked equalizer bar jammed in place in a wheel assembly like this one. Fortunately for the riders, quick action on the part of all involved in finding it avoided a possible tragedy but created a commuting headache. Photo| SEPTA

Fortunately for SEPTA, a cracked equalizer bar jammed in place on this wheel assembly, thus preventing a possible tipover and derailment. The decision made to put rider safety first in the wake of the discovery of the crack has created a commuting headache, however. Photo | SEPTA

Early last Friday morning, an alert SEPTA Railroad Division yard inspector noticed something was funny with Car 812, and as a result, the agency quickly moved to prevent a possible catastrophe on Regional Rail. That action, however, has created a huge headache for both SEPTA and the thousands who depend on Regional Rail to get to and from work every day. At a news conference today (July 3rd), SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel explained what led to the decision to pull all 120 Silverliner V Regional Rail cars from service and how the agency plans to deal with the resulting commuter nightmare.  Read more »

I Tried SEPTA Key — and I Think it Works

SEPTA Key card. Photo by Jared Brey.

SEPTA Key card. Photo by Jared Brey.

Eat my dust, Philadelphia. I got SEPTA’s new payment technology.

This morning at 6 o’clock, stations around the city began accepting “early adopters” for the SEPTA Key electronic fare system. They’ll disburse up to 10,000 fare cards today. If you don’t make the early cut, you may have to wait until the full rollout of the system late this year. Read more »

SEPTA: Key Should Fully Launch by Fall 2016

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

SEPTA says its long-awaited (and long-delayed) card fare payment system will finally fully launch by late fall of this y ear. A “limited” launch of SEPTA Key is also planned to take place during the summer.

SEPTA revealed the news at a City Council hearing on Tuesday. Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA’s general manager, said that gradually rolling out the project is a deliberate move. “The amount of change that this kind of system brings, we’ve chosen to bring it in over time,” he said.”It’s very important to break this system in carefully.” Read more »

SEPTA Proposes Budget Increase, But No Fare Hike, for 2017

Septa regional rail train

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

SEPTA has published its proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2017 (PDF), which begins in June. The $1.39 billion operating budget represents an increase of $40 million, or 3.7 percent, from the fiscal 2016 budget, yet is projected to be balanced, as state law requires, largely through an equal increase in federal, state and local government subsidies, with money from the state making up the lion’s share.

The agency expects a slight rise ($788,000) in revenue from operations, with most of that coming from other revenue, as the fiscal 2017 budget contains no fare increase, representing a continued pause in what has become a practice of regular incremental fare hikes at three-year intervals. (SEPTA plans to resume the practice with the fiscal 2018 budget; the last fare hike took place in July 2013.) One of the newer sources of other revenue is the sale of power from storage batteries installed along the Market-Frankford Line to the PJM Interconnection regional power grid, a program that will expand in the years to come with the installation of additional batteries along both the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines. Read more »

Coming Soon: Two New SEPTA Bus Routes?

Photo by Jeff Fusco

SEPTA wants to hear what you have to say about proposed changes in bus service, including two new routes slated to start service in 2017-18. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

SEPTA’s Annual Service Plan for Fiscal Year 2017 includes two new bus routes that won’t be launched in the coming fiscal year. That’s because the agency wants to get as much public feedback as it can about the proposed services before letting them roll.

Both of them, though, are much anticipated, and one of them responds to longstanding clamor from some Philadelphia neighborhoods for new service to fill a connectivity gap. Here’s the skinny on each of them: Read more »

20 Smart Transportation Ideas Reshaping Philadelphia (and Your Life)

The original Open Streets PHL: Pope Weekend, September 2015.

The original Open Streets PHL: Pope Weekend, September 2015. Photograph by Cory J. Popp

Our city has reached a tipping point. Just look outside, in the streets, where rentable, shareable Indego bikes have come, conquered and multiplied. Meantime, regional rail ridership is at an all-time high, and SEPTA usage in general has been trending up. Philadelphians are driving less, and all over, parklets are winning out over parking. But the most visible shift happened last September, during the Pope’s visit, when thousands of people took to the car-free streets to revel and cavort and see the city in an entirely new light. It was a weekend that spawned a movement (Open Streets PHL), and a moment that marked the beginning of the end of the long, long reign of the automobile in Philadelphia.

Of course, the end of any regime always means some resistance, and plenty of bumps. But there’s too much momentum behind a Philly that’s less about driving and more about, well, everything but driving to slow down now. So here, we take a look at what’s happening on the streets of Philadelphia, what will happen, and what should happen to take us where we want to go. Read more »

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

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 »

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